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Bluebeard's Eighth Wife

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bluebeard's Eighth Wife
Bluebeard's Eighth Wife.jpg
Theatrical release poster[1]
Directed byErnst Lubitsch
Written byCharlton Andrews
Screenplay by
Based onLa huitième femme de Barbe-Bleue
by Alfred Savoir
Produced byErnst Lubitsch
CinematographyLeo Tover
Edited byWilliam Shea
Music by
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • March 23, 1938 (1938-03-23)
Running time
80 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budgetover $1 million[3]

Bluebeard's Eighth Wife is a 1938 Paramount Pictures American romantic comedy film directed and produced by Ernst Lubitsch and starring Claudette Colbert and Gary Cooper. The film is based on the 1921 French play La huitième femme de Barbe-Bleue by Alfred Savoir and the English translation of the play by Charlton Andrews. The screenplay was the first of many collaborations between Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder.[4][5] The film is a remake of the 1923 silent version directed by Sam Wood and starring Gloria Swanson.[6]

Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife failed at the box office, and Paramount Pictures released Lubitsch to go to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.[7][8]

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  • Bluebeard's Eighth Wife 1938 Trailer | Claudette Colbert | Gary Cooper
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  • Bluebeard's Eighth Wife - Hot 'N' Cold!
  • Gary Cooper spanks Claudette Colbert



"Once the premise is established that Claudette Colbert wants to deflate the multi-millionaire Gary Cooper, who buys his wives – seven of ’em prior to her – as he buys a fancy motor car, making pre-marriage settlements with them, etc, it then becomes an always obvious farce." — Abel Green, Variety[9]

On the French Riviera, wealthy businessman Michael Brandon wants to buy pajamas, but just the tops. When the store refuses to sell the pajamas without the pants, an attractive woman named Nicole offers to buy the bottoms. The two engage in a flirtatious conversation about Michael's insomnia, as Michael tries to figure out if the pajama bottoms are for a family member or lover.[10]

At his hotel, Michael has trouble sleeping, so the managers offer him a suite on a higher floor, further away from the sounds of the sea. The suite is still occupied by the Marquis de Loiselle, whose hotel account is two months in arrears. The marquis attempts to make a business proposition to Michael, who refuses. However, when Michael recognizes the Marquis' pajama bottoms, he realizes that Nicole is his daughter. Michael alters his opinion of the marquis and buys a bathtub from him that was supposedly once owned by King Louis XIV. He then pursues Nicole and proposes marriage to her the same day. She turns him down, but eventually changes her mind and accepts.

Nicole is horrified to learn that Michael has been married seven times previously. Determined to stick around,[11] she calls off the wedding, much to her father's dismay. Michael explains that he gives each of his wives a prenuptial agreement guaranteeing $50,000 a year for life if they should divorce. He eventually assents to Nicole's demand for twice that amount.

During the couple's honeymoon in Czechoslovakia and later at their home in Paris, Nicole keeps her discontented husband at arm's length. He assumes that she is hoping to obtain a divorce, but this only strengthens his natural tenacity and his determination not to grant her one. It is implied that what she actually wants is to keep him interested by frustrating him so that he will not grow tired of her as he did with the previous seven. After reading Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, Michael tries to follow Petruchio's example by "taming" his wife, but Nicole proves too strong for him, slapping him back when he slaps her and biting him (then tenderly treating him with iodine) when he spanks her.

Nicole writes anonymous letters to Michael claiming that she has a lover, but Monsieur Pepinard, the private detective whom Michael hires, assures him that the claim is false. Nicole then blackmails Pepinard into finding her a fake lover, a boxer named Kid Mulligan, so that Michael can catch her alone with him and get knocked unconscious. Complications ensue when her friend Count Albert De Regnier picks the wrong time to return a purse that she had left behind and is mistaken for her husband by Kid Mulligan, and gets knocked out. Michael assumes that Albert is her lover and finally gives her a divorce.

Six months later, Michael has a nervous breakdown. Nicole tries to see him in the sanitarium, but is not allowed in. Michael has been fitted with a straitjacket after spotting her father, who has arranged for her to enter by buying the sanitarium with their new wealth. Nicole tells Michael that she loved him at first sight, but had to break him of his habit of marrying so often. Now that she is financially independent, she explains, he can see that she does not want to remarry him for his money. He frees himself from his straitjacket, advances on her menacingly, then embraces her.



"Lookie, Lookie, Lookie, Here Comes Cookie", lyrics and music by Mack Gordon, sung by Gary Cooper.


In 1936, Wilder signs a employment contract with Paramount Pictures, then Manny Wolf, story editor and Paramount writer's department head,[12][13][14][15] teamed him with Charles Brackett.[16][17] Wolf suggested to Lubitsch to have them write Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife, thus matching Lubitsch with a younger writer, influencing Wilder to write more modern than the script for Angel.[16] For a year, teamed together by the studio, Lubitsch supervised Wilder and Brackett cowriting Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife.[18] On 11 October 1937, filming began, finishing in January 1938, for $1.3 million.[18]


New York Times critic Frank Nugent wrote that Gary Cooper was badly miscast as the millionaire.[19]

Variety wrote: "It's a light and sometimes bright entertainment, but gets a bit tiresome, despite its comparatively moderate running time. ... The Brackett-Wilder scripting is ofttimes bright but illogical and fragile."[9]

"In Nancy Meyers' The Holiday (2006), Arthur (Eli Wallach), an elderly screenwriter who peaked during Hollywood's Golden Era, describes a meet-cute by paraphrasing the opening of Ernst Lubitsch's Bluebeard's Eighth Wife." — Kayla McCulloch[20]

Further reading

  • "Bluebeard's Eighth Wife, 1938". Motion Picture Association of America. Production Code Administration Records.


  1. ^ "Bluebeard's Eighth Wife 1938". agefotostock. Retrieved 13 February 2023.
  2. ^ "French actress Claudette Colbert with director Ernst Lubitsch at the premiere of 'Bluebeard's Eighth Wife' in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by William Grimes)". Getty Images. Retrieved 13 February 2023.
  3. ^ "Top Films and Stars". Variety. 4 January 1939. p. 10. Retrieved 18 March 2023.
  4. ^ Hopp, Glenn (2003). Billy Wilder: The Cinema of Wit 1906-2002. Taschen. p. 19. ISBN 9783822815953.
  5. ^ Eyman, Scott (2000). Ernst Lubitsch: Laughter in Paradise. JHU Press. p. 385. ISBN 0-8018-6558-1.
  6. ^ ATAS/UCLA Television Archives. Study Collection (1981). ATAS-UCLA Television Archives Catalog: Holdings in the Study Collection of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences University of California, Los Angeles, Television Archives. Taylor & Francis US. p. 9. ISBN 0-913178-69-1.
  7. ^ "Ernst Lubitsch". Retrieved 13 February 2023.
  8. ^ Desowitz, Bill (1 October 1997). "Back in Touch With the 'Lubitsch Touch'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 13 February 2023.
  9. ^ a b
  10. ^ "Bluebeard's Eighth Wife".
  11. ^ Hamm, Jack (2014-04-06). "Touch of Genius: The Sound Films of Ernst Lubitsch". Retrieved 13 February 2023.
  12. ^ "Leaf 000344". Broadway and Hollywood 'Movies'. Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 1932. p. 344. Retrieved 13 February 2023. Jesse J. Goldberg, Irving Lande, Manny Wolf, Jack Cunningham, Dan Totheroh and Walton Hall Smith have been added to the writing department at the Paramount ... this Page - (Large)
  13. ^ "Billy Wilder Biography - Austrian-American film director". The German Way & More. Archived from the original on 10 May 2015. Retrieved 13 February 2023.
  14. ^ Phillips, Gene D. (22 December 2009). "From Berlin to Hollywood: The Early Screenplays". Some Like It Wilder: The Life and Controversial Films of Billy Wilder. doi:10.5810/kentucky/9780813125701.003.0001. Retrieved 13 February 2023.
  15. ^ Toler, John. "The Mistress of Poplar Springs, Part 2". FauquierNow. Retrieved 13 February 2023.
  16. ^ a b Eyman, Scott (1993). Ernst Lubitsch: Laughter in Paradise. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-671-74936-1.
  17. ^ Gemünden, Gerd (2008). "Chronology". A Foreign Affair: Billy Wilder's American Films (1 ed.). Berghahn Books. pp. 167–169. doi:10.3167/9781845454180 (inactive 2023-03-23). ISBN 978-1-84545-418-0. JSTOR j.ctt9qcq5c.13. Retrieved 12 February 2023. Made available under a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 license with support from Knowledge Unlatched{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: DOI inactive as of March 2023 (link)
  18. ^ a b film commentary by Kat Ellinger, film historian, Editor-in-Chief at Diabolique Magazine: "Bluebeard's Eighth Wife". Kino Lorber. Retrieved 13 February 2023.
  19. ^ Nugent, Frank (March 24, 1938). "The Screen In Review; Gary Cooper Comes a Cropper in 'Bluebeard's Eighth Wife', at the Paramount--'The Crime of Dr. Hallet' Is Shown at the Rialto At the Rialto". The New York Times.
  20. ^ McCulloch, Kayla. "Bluebeard's Eighth Wife". Cinema St Louis. Retrieved 13 February 2023.

External links

This page was last edited on 1 April 2023, at 16:22
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