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Dear Wife
William Holden in 'Dear Wife', 1949.jpg
Theatrical poster
Directed byRichard Haydn
Written byNorman Krasna (characters)
Arthur Sheekman
N. Richard Nash
Produced byRichard Maibaum
StarringJoan Caulfield
William Holden
CinematographyStuart Thompson
Edited byDoane Harrison
Archie Marshek
Music byJoseph J. Lilley
Van Cleave
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • November 15, 1949 (1949-11-15)
Running time
88 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$1.725,000[1]

Dear Wife is a 1949 comedy film starring Joan Caulfield and William Holden. It is the sequel to Dear Ruth, which was based on the Broadway play of the same name by Norman Krasna.


Miriam Wilkins is a teenage girl going door-to-door, trying to get Bill Seacroft, her brother-in-law, elected to the state senate. However, Bill has no idea that Miriam is doing this, and he has no wish to become a senator. He is a middle-aged war veteran who works at a bank. He feels like a loser and is frustrated by having to live with his wife Ruth's family. Bill wants to be more independent and stand on his own two feet.

Ruth's father, the Honorable Judge Harry Wilkins, has already been nominated for state senator. The whole Wilkins family goes into shock when they learn that Bill will run against him in the election. Harry comes to terms with the situation, believing that his chance of winning is considerable. However, Harry becomes very upset by his daughter Miriam's disloyalty when she publishes an article in the local newspaper in which he is described as a political "fathead".

The Wilkins' household faces some serious dissension among its members. As the two campaigns start off, Bill's wife Ruth soon becomes very jealous of Tommy Murphy, a beautiful woman who serves as campaign manager for Bill. Harry hires a man named Albert Krummer, Ruth's former fiancé and Bill's current boss, as his campaign manager. The conflict between the two campaign camps deepens. Albert, who is still in love with Ruth, pours gasoline on the rising conflict between her and Bill.

Bill starts to take his campaign seriously, and publicly airs his views on Harry's policy concerning a new local airport. Bill states that the airport would force many city residents out of their homes. Miriam is secretary of the Civic Betterment Committee, and one day she decides to use her influence to arrange a live radio broadcast from her home, in support of Bill's campaign. The broadcast is a complete disaster and everyone is in conflict. By the end of the broadcast, Bill and Ruth have separated because she stubbornly refuses to join him and move out of the family house. Harry disapproves of the separation, and he later tips off Bill about a duplex that Ruth is showing in her new job as a real estate agent.

Taking his father-in-law's advice, Bill rents the duplex, which is located in another district. He and Ruth almost reunite, but she still refuses to move in with him, since she is still too jealous of Bill's campaign manager Tommy. Bill's relationship with Tommy is strictly business, but one day, when the two are alone, Tommy admits to Bill that she has fallen for him. He rejects her advances, but it is too late. Ruth accepts a new job in Chicago, and plans to move there. Miriam decides to reunite her older sister with her husband, and since she has just had a fight with her boyfriend Ziggy, convinces Bill to take her to a dance instead.

Ruth, however, is already on her way to the railway station with Albert, who hopes to renew their relationship. Harry decides to help out and arranges for the police to arrest Albert for bad brakes on his car. Albert and Ruth are brought into court, and Harry insists that they remain in town for the trial, which will not be heard until next week. Bill and Albert meet at the dance, and Albert informs Bill that he has been disqualified as a candidate because he moved to another district. Harry's sponsor announces that a piece of land will be donated to any homeowner displaced by the new airport.

Since Harry undoubtedly is the victor of the race to the senate, the political conflict is resolved. Bill gets into a fight with Albert at the dance and gives him a black-eye for interfering with his marriage. Meanwhile, Harry gives Ruth a lecture about her wifely duties. After this Ruth and Bill finally reunite. In secret, Miriam starts a new petition to nominate Bill for state senator.[2]



In 1945 Paramount paid a record $400,000 for the film rights to the hit play Dear Ruth. This included the right to use the characters in a follow up movie. In December 1947 the studio announced they would make a sequel re-using many of the same cast. Arthur Sheekman (who wrote the 1947 film) and R Richard Nash were assigned to write the script and Richard Maibaum was to direct.[3]

In October 1949 the film was put on Paramount's slate.[4]

Filming started January 1949.[5]


  1. ^ "Top Grosses of 1950". Variety. January 3, 1951. p. 58.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Thomas F. Brady (December 6, 1947). "Paramount Plans 'Dear Ruth' Sequel: Studio's Production 'Dear Wife' Will Use Available Members of Original Film's Cast". The New York Times.
  4. ^ PARAMOUNT MOVIE TO STAR JOHN LUND New York Times 17 Oct 1949: 18.
  5. ^ Columnist's Story Will Have 'New Look' Hopper, Hedda. Los Angeles Times 11 Dec 1948: 12.

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