I Was a Male War Bride (1949) starring Cary Grant, Ann Sheridan, Marion Marshall, Randy Stuart, Bill Neff directed by Howard Hawks Movie Review

I Was a Male War Bride (1949)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Cary Grant and Ann Sheridan in I Was a Male War Bride

3 Weddings and a Cross Dresser

Adequate is not a bad word when describing movies because to be honest most movies are no more than adequate, plainly average. It's not just modern movies which are adequate, older ones are as well and of those older one which ends up as just adequate is Howard Hawk's "I Was a Male War Bride" also known as "You Can't Sleep Here". It's adequate because for the first half of the movie it all feels too routine, running through a storyline which has filled numerous other movies and it's not until the second half does it really begin to work, which sadly by then is too late.

Having been assigned to work together French army Captain Henri Rochard (Cary Grant - Every Girl Should Be Married) and American Lieutenant Catherine Gates (Ann Sheridan) don't hit it off as they constantly antagonise each other. But in the course of their mission to get to a German scientist in post-war Germany they discover that their love hate relationship is predominantly love leading them to get married. But when Catherine's army unit is ordered to return to the USA the only way that Henri can go back with her is by invoking a law allowing foreign brides to return with their husbands much to Henri's annoyance and embarrassment.

Cary Grant dressed as a woman in I Was a Male War Bride

So the first half of "I Was a Male War Bride" struggles, it struggles because it runs through a standard formula of two people, a man and woman, forced into working together in an antagonistic relationship only for it to become apparent that the antagonism is hiding their true feelings. I'm not being cruel but this first half feels tired and predictable with many of the jokes failing to raise the laughter they hoped to achieve. And the trouble is that whilst Cary Grant and Ann Sheridan spark off of each other quite nicely the story still ends up dull, struggling to keep you interested.

The knock on effect of this routine first half is that when the storyline shifts to the attempts to get Henri Rochard back to America as Catherine's bride it takes time to regain your attention. The good news is that this second half is brilliantly funny with reoccurring jokes about Henri and Catherine trying to consummate their marriage and Henri trying to find a bed to sleep in as the unusual male bride. It is repetitive but it is also funny and culminates with a brilliant scene featuring Cary Grant dressed as a woman.

It's a shame that the first half struggles so much as if it had managed to find the inventive storyline and scenes which fill up the second half then "I Was a Male War Bride" would have been more than just adequate and a really memorable movie for more than just Cary Grant dressed as a woman.

It's also a shame that the first half does a disservice to stars Cary Grant and Ann Sheridan who seem to be coasting through the series of antagonistic cliches which fill it. Although even when coasting the spark between them is at least enjoyable and is even more so when the second half comes along and Grant has to put up with being called a bride and feeling completely put upon along the way. Strangely though that whilst the antagonistic spark between them is good the romantic chemistry is never present and although you're not meant to take their relationship as serious, despite having 3 weddings, it leaves the movie slightly lacking when it comes to the fun side of romance.

What this all boils down to is that "I Was a Male War Bride" is entertaining but in a very adequate sort of way. It has some fun moments especially during the second half with Cary Grant dressed as a woman but the routine first half lets the movie down causing it to be entertainingly adequate.