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directed by William A. Seiter
USA 1940


Not to be confused with George Melford's 1934 film, this 1940 Universal effort from William A. Seiter (Laurel and Hardy's SONS OF THE DESERT), HIRED WIFE finds secretary Kendal Browning (Rosalind Russell, THE VELVET TOUCH) regretting putting her boss Stephen Dexter (Brian Aherne, A NIGHT TO REMEMBER) in his place when she first started working for him. Over the years, she has managed his professional and private life. "Wouldn't it be easier and quicker to pay her off now," she asks of his latest infatuation who turns out to be model Phyllis Walden (Virginia Bruce, THE NIGHT HAS A THOUSAND EYES) whose acquaintance he wants to make under the pretense of a new take on the advertising campaign for his cement business. Kendal believes that she can manipulate the two into never meeting, but social-climbing Phyllis initiative to secure a business date with Stephen and expose Kendal's tactics. When Stephen wins a subway contract with a fair bid, bigger competitors conspire to file an injunction on a technicality that may bankrupt his company. Worrying about his employees, Stephen takes lawyer friend Roger's (Robert Benchley, FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT) advice to put all of his business and personal finances in his wife's name, requiring him of course to find a wife within twenty-four hours. He sends Kendal to track down Phyllis to make the proposal, but she sells it in such an unappealing fashion that Stephen has no choice but to propose to Kendal. After the nuptials, a remorseful Kendal confesses her machinations to Stephen who cannot wait to divorce her and starts seeing Phyllis secretly while keeping up appearances in public with Kendal. Hurt but still smitten, Kendal plots to bust up Stephen and Phyllis with the help of penniless South American Lothario Jose de Briganza (John Carroll). Seemingly more like soap opera intrigue than a romantic comedy, HIRED WIFE was made a decade after the establishment of the Motion Picture Production Code but seems to enjoy pushing the envelope on premarital and extramarital sexual relationships with a double entendre or two about "making love" (an antiquated term for courting). Russell and Aherne, in the first of three romantic comedy collaborations (the other two for Columbia Pictures), have the usual Old Hollywood banter but the romance is superficial and the reversal at the end rather mechanic. Bruce models several dazzling Vera West gowns (Russell is dressed by Irene Lentz in only slightly less glamorous costumes to make her seem "plainer").

Eric Cotenas


Theatrical Release: 13 September 1940 (USA)

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DVD Review: Simply Media - Region 2 - PAL

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

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Simply Media

Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 1:36:03

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 5.54 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono
Subtitles none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Simply Media

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
� none

DVD Release Date: June 6th, 2016

Chapters 12





Derived from an NTSC standard definition source, Simply Media's single-layer, barebones DVD looks pretty soft overall even taking into account the film's vintage and the condition of the materials (speckles begin and continue long after reel changes and opticals). The Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track is in good condition. There are no extras.

  - Eric Cotenas


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Simply Media

Region 2 - PAL


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