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Hired Wife
Hired Wife.jpg
Directed byWilliam A. Seiter
Written byRichard Connell
Gladys Lehman
Story byGeorge Beck
Produced byWilliam A. Seiter
Glenn Tryon
StarringRosalind Russell
Brian Aherne
Virginia Bruce
CinematographyMilton R. Krasner
Edited byMilton Carruth
Music byFrank Skinner
William A. Seiter Productions
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • September 13, 1940 (1940-09-13) (United States)
Running time
96 minutes
CountryUnited States

Hired Wife is a 1940 American romantic comedy film directed by William A. Seiter and starring Rosalind Russell, Brian Aherne and Virginia Bruce.[1]


When Stephen Dexter (Brian Aherne), boss of Dexter Cement, competes with the giants in his industry, they strike back by threatening to get an injunction against him the next day and tie up his business if he will not cooperate. Facing bankruptcy, he still refuses to give in. Van Horn (Robert Benchley), his lawyer and longtime friend, suggests he get married that day and transfer all his assets to his new wife to get around the injunction.

Stephen wants to marry his current girlfriend, blonde Phyllis Walden (Virginia Bruce), but his second in command, Kendal Browning (Rosalind Russell), has other ideas. Early on in their working relationship, she had fended off his romantic advances, but has come to regret it. When Stephen sends her to see Phyllis, Kendal words the offer is such a way that Phyllis suspects it is a trap designed to expose her gold-digging motives. So she turns the second-hand marriage proposal down. Running out of time, Stephen asks Kendal to marry him. She accepts, and they fly to South Carolina to see a justice of the peace.

Kendal eventually confesses to Stephen what she did to make Phyllis reject him, angering her husband. However, they have to live under the same roof to avoid suspicion that their marriage is a sham. Van Horn becomes a reluctant chaperon, rooming with Stephen.

When Stephen sneaks away to a nightclub to explain things to Phyllis, Kendal follows. She runs into her handsome friend Jose (John Carroll), who is curious to see what Stephen looks like. Kendal comes up with the idea to have the penniless Jose pose as a wealthy man to divert Phyllis.

When Stephen's business competitors give up their underhanded tactics, he asks Kendal for a divorce. To his surprise, she refuses to give him one. However, the justice of the peace who married them shows up at the office and apologizes: his license had expired, so the marriage is invalid. When Phyllis and Jose separately converge on the office, he is finally revealed to be a fraud financed by Kendal. Kendal and Jose leave. Afterward, though, Stephen and Phyllis admit to themselves that they really love Kendal and Jose, respectively. Both couples are happily reunited.



Hired Wife was dramatized as a radio play on an hour-long broadcast of Lux Radio Theatre on November 3, 1941. William Powell and Myrna Loy play the Aherne/Russell roles.[2] On September 22, 1941, at the end of Lydia Cecil B. DeMille announced [3] that Powell and Loy would play in a performance of Third Finger, Left Hand on September 29. Instead Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and Martha Scott performed.[4]


  1. ^ Sikov p.32
  2. ^ "Hired Wife". Lux Radio Theatre. Internet Archive. Retrieved 2021-06-04.
  3. ^ "Lydia". Lux Radio Theatre. Internet Archive. Retrieved 2021-06-04.
  4. ^ "Third Finger, Left Hand". Lux Radio Theatre. Internet Archive. Retrieved 2021-06-04.


  • Sikov, Ed. Screwball: Hollywood's Madcap Romantic Comedies. Crown Publishers, 1989.

External links

This page was last edited on 22 June 2022, at 14:28
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