Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr make a fantastic romantic pairing, but that’s in An Affair to Remember and not this sub-par romantic comedy.
In Dream Wife, Grant is frustrated that his fiancée Kerr, a US State Department official, is always putting the affairs of the country before him and so he breaks the engagement off when she asks to postpone their wedding. Seeking the dream wife, one that serves her man and knows her own place, he proposes to the princess of the fictional country of Bukistan, with whom Kerr is trying to negotiate an oil deal.
Of course, this is an entirely by-the-numbers romantic comedy and so you know that he loves Kerr really and that he’ll never really marry the princess. Grant is given the opportunity to show off both his fine array of bemused expressions and his affable charm. And no-one wears a tux quite like Cary. He’s such a gifted comic actor that he elevates many of the situations above the material, but even his best efforts can’t save this film.
The Arabic connection seems like an excuse to pack the film with questionable stereotypes, such as the bride coming with a large dowry of goats, the implacable man servant who’s built like a brick whatever, the lecherous Arab Prince and the not-particularly-amusing antics of the young princess (Movita) trying to adapt to the American language and the interest of the US male population.
A poor script and curiously detached direction from future blockbuster novellist Sheldon do little to help you warm to cold characters, particularly Kerr, who is uncharacteristically lifeless and unnecessarily shrill. This, of course, may have had more to do with the prevailing wisdom of the day that said that any woman who put her career before a handsome guy like Cary Grant must be lacking in some way, so therefore can’t be smart, ambitious and worthy of the most debonair man in Washington.
Overall, it’s a pedestrian, predictable and uninvolving romantic comedy and its views on women and Middle Eastern people really haven’t aged well.