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"Lover Come Back" with Lucille Ball (1946)

Lover Come Back

Directed by William A. Seiter.  Camera:  Joseph Valentine.  With George Brent, Lucille Ball, Vera Zorina, Charles Winninger, Carl Esmond, Raymond Walburn, Wallace Ford, Elisabeth Risdon, William Wright, Louise Beavers, Franklin Pangborn, George Chandler, Joan Fulton, Pat Alphin, Dorothy Christy, Eddie Waller, George Davis, Dorothy Ford, Edward Martindale, Anne O’Neal, Shirley O’Hara, Gwen Donovan, Mary Moore, Joan Graham, Frank Scannell, Harold Goodwin, Perc Launders, Lane Chandler, Jack Shutta, Bernard Thomas, Jerome Root, Ellen Corby, Katherine York, Lottie Harrison, Elmer Jerome, Louis Wood, Phil Shepard, Bill Hudson, Geraldine Jarman, Lloyd Ingraham, Ann Lawrence, Wheaton Chambers.

Kay Williams, the top fashion designer at Styles Incorporated, fends off the amorous advances of artist Paul Millard, photographer Jimmy Hennessey and company president J.P. Winthrop, while waiting for her war correspondent husband Bill to return from overseas.  In order to prove her determination to remain faithful to Bill, Kay invites all three of her prospective suitors to her apartment the same evening and plays them a record made by Bill declaring his longing and love for her.

Soon afterward, Bill returns, accompanied by his assistant, Madeline Laslo, with whom he is romantically involved.  Unable to wait for Bill’s ship to dock, Kay ferries out to meet him and barely misses finding him in an embrace with Madeline.

The three proceed to a party, where Bill is promptly set upon by numerous female members of the overseas show, much to Kay’s and Madeline’s annoyance.  The showgirls are likewise disappointed when Bill introduces Kay as his wife, until one girl accidentally notices a record in Madeline’s purse and, without her knowledge, puts it on the phonograph.  It proves to be the same record Kay received from Bill, and it quickly becomes obvious that he has given a copy to all the women who know him.  Kay and Bill make as graceful an exit as possible and escape to their home.  Although Bill declares it is Kay he really loves, she expresses some emotional misgivings and Bill explodes with anger and storms out.

Shortly afterward, Pa and Ma Williams visit and Pa staunchly defends his son, in the same blustery manner adopted by Bill.  Kay and Ma privately speculate what would happen if the shoe was on the other foot.  Later that night, after Pa leaves behind his cigar, Kay intentionally keeps it burning and, as hoped, when Bill returns and smells the smoke, he immediately suspects a man has visited.

The next day Tubbs, Bill’s attorney and friend, comes to the apartment to defend Bill and leaves his hat behind, and Kay plants it where she knows Bill will see it.  Obsessed with jealousy, Bill takes the hat to Kay’s office and tries it on Paul and Jimmy, and when he discovers it belongs to Tubbs, knocks out his unfortunate friend.  Later that day at home, Kay explains about the cigar and hat and accuses Bill of hypocritical values, but Bill remains indignant.  Pa, Ma and Tubbs all offer advice, but when Bill remains suspicious of Kay and unrepentant about his own behavior, Kay sadly decides she must file for divorce.  She and her maid, Martha, go to the Las Vegas El Rancho Frontier hotel, where they wait for the divorce papers to go through.  Meanwhile, Bill meets Madeline and unhappily tells her about Kay’s plans and Madeline sides with Kay.

wo weeks later, when Kay receives an enormous bouquet of roses, she and Martha assume that Bill intends to reconcile.  Martha, hoping to help, finds out from the hotel clerk that Bill is indeed due at the hotel and asks the clerk to give him the key to Kay’s suite.

Later, Kay is startled when Paul knocks at her door and turns out to have sent the flowers, but she reluctantly agrees to go out with him that evening.  When Bill and Madeline check in, Bill is given Kay’s key, and after several near misses in the large suite, the two finally discover one another.  Bill quickly realizes Paul is next door and furiously tells Kay he has come with Madeline and leaves to get his own room.

That evening in the hotel’s lounge, Kay and Paul sit just below Bill and Madeline and all are surprised to see Pa on the dance floor carrying on with several women.  Although both couples attempt to make the other jealous, when Kay and Paul dance, Madeline admits to Bill that their relationship is over, as it is clear he still loves Kay.  She kisses Bill goodbye, and Kay, seeing them, believes she has lost her husband for good.  Later, back in her suite when Paul proposes, Kay tells him she cannot remarry because she still loves Bill.

Down at the bar, after Madeline’s departure, Bill morosely sits drinking and when Pa dances up, berates him for his frivolous behavior that surely hurts Ma.  Pa points out that Bill has behaved exactly the same way with Kay.  When Ma shows up and guides the chastened Pa away, Bill accepts responsibility for his own reckless acts for the first time.  Full of remorse, Bill hurries to Kay’s suite, where she pretends Paul is in the other room, determined not to give her up.  Bill remains anxious until he realizes Kay is bluffing, and the two finally and happily reconcile.

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