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Fred and Joan are a married couple working at the Benson's business. Mrs JJ Benson has a strict policy against married employees, so they keep it a secret while they save every penny as they wish to have a baby. Everything goes well until Mrs Benson decides to install her good-for-nothing son in the store and assigns Joan as his secretary. Then one day she is asked to model dresses for a late customer.Written by
Model Wife casts Dick Powell and Joan Blondell, married but on the rocks in real life, as a married couple who have to keep their marriage a secret. They work in a department store that is run by Lucile Watson who does not permit folks married to each other in her employ. That's enough of a strain on the marriage as it is.
But add Lee Bowman in the mix and we've got real trouble as the Model Wife starts to lose some shine. Bowman is Watson's wastrel son who spends the money as fast as she makes it. That's going to end because he's going to go to work in the store where she can supervise all his activities.
Bowman takes a look at Blondell and asks for her as his secretary. That's when all the fun really starts.
Both stars starred in a whole number of films at Warner Brothers and both were looking for better material. Especially Powell who was desperate to reinvent himself as a dramatic actor. Sad to say that Model Wife was not too much different from the musicals he did at Warner Brothers you could even spot places where songs could be easily placed.
Powell had already shown some comic talent at Warner Brothers and does have a couple of good bits. He and Lee Bowman do an early version of that mirror routine that Harpo Marx perfected with among others Lucille Ball. Might have worked better if Bowman was not wearing a mustache.
Model Wife also has Powell and neighbor Charlie Ruggles in a state of high inebriation walk a pair of skunks into Watson's establishment during a perfume exhibition. Those skunks certainly give out with a different odor than the perfume does. It's the highlight of the film.
I think you'll find Model Wife a moderately amusing screen comedy that holds up fairly well. Though in this day and age who would ban married folks from the same establishment?
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