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George Brent took a stab at farce in the 1941 film Honeymoon for Three. He was hardly an accomplished comedian, but the picture at least gave him a break from his usual roles, which required him to stand around watching high-pitched leading ladies like Bette Davis and Barbara Stanwyck suffer through emotional crises. It also gave him a shot at romance with co-star Ann Sheridan.
Sheridan wasn't one of the three on the film's eponymous honeymoon, however. Cast as a popular novelist on a book tour, Brent shared the film's title with Osa Massen, a former girlfriend who decides to rekindle their relationship, and Charlie Ruggles, as the new husband she has to dump to do so. Sheridan was on-hand in a typical role as a long-suffering, wise-cracking secretary secretly in love with the boss The story had first seen light as the 1932 Broadway hit Goodbye Again, starring Tony Perkins' father, Osgood, and featuring the young James Stewart in a small role. Warner Bros. had previously filmed the play in 1933 as a vehicle for Warren William and Joan Blondell.
For Brent and Sheridan, the film led to an amorous relationship. They had first come together for a studio-arranged date in 1939, when Brent was still involved in an off-again, on-again fling with frequent co-star Davis, and Sheridan was freshly divorced from actor Edward Norris. That was about the only distinction the film held for them. Brent was hardly an accomplished comedian and would return to more comfortable ground with his next film, The Great Lie (1941), in which he served as the love object for both Davis and Mary Astor. Sheridan had just come off a string of hits -- Torrid Zone, They Drive by Night (both 1940) and City for Conquest (1941). The first had cemented her status as the "Oomph Girl," a publicity ploy that helped make her a top pinup among enlisted men. The other two had proven her strengths as a dramatic actress. In later life, she would dismiss Honeymoon for Three as the type of film she had to make in order to be assigned movies that she cared about.
As with most Warner Bros. films of the period, Honeymoon for Three was blessed with a solid supporting cast drawn from the studio's contract roles, including Lee Patrick, Charlie Ruggles and future producer (and Jack Warner son-in-law) William Orr. Most notable, however, was Jane Wyman as Sheridan's best friend. At this point in her career, Wyman was starring in low-budget films and playing supporting roles in more expensive pictures like Honeymoon for Three. She was Sheridan's best friend off-screen as well, although she couldn't help envying the star's success at the time. It would take a few more years for Wyman's star to rise, with dramatic roles in The Lost Weekend (1945), The Yearling (1946) and her Oscar®-winner, Johnny Belinda (1948).
Honeymoon for Three was expected to do little more than turn a quick profit, a fact attested to by the assignment of Lloyd Bacon as director. Although he had scored some memorable films at Warners -- most notably the pioneering musical 42nd Street (1933) and the atmospheric crime film Marked Woman (1937), starring Davis -- his chief recommendation was the speed with which he worked. He had even scored a record by filming 47 scenes in one eight-hour day for Knute Rockne All American (1940). True to form, he got through the present film in 26 days.
The growing romance between Brent and Sheridan may have helped, as they became increasingly enthusiastic about filming their love scenes, including a lengthy for the time 56-second kiss. When the film came out, critics pretty much agreed that its only box-office hope was audience interest in Sheridan's oomph and the co-stars' budding romance.
A year later, Brent and Sheridan would marry. Sadly, the relationship would not last much longer than the film did at the box office. Within a year they were divorced. The official story was that differences in temperaments and ages led to their break-up. She was 26; he was 37. She liked parties and nightclubs; he preferred quiet nights at home. In a private and then unprintable comment to a gossip columnist, however, Sheridan would later suggest a more intimate problem: "Brent bent."
Producer: Henry Blanke
Director: Lloyd Bacon
Screenplay: Earl Baldwin, Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein
Based on the play Goodbye Again by Allan Scott and George Haight
Cinematography: Ernest Haller
Art Direction: Max Parker
Music: Heinz Roemheld
Principal Cast: Ann Sheridan (Anne Rogers), George Brent (Kenneth Bixby), Charlie Ruggles (Harvey Wilson), Osa Massen (Julie Wilson), Jane Wyman (Elizabeth Cochessy), William T. Orr (Arthur Westlake), Lee Patrick (Mrs. Pettijohn), Walter Catlett (Waiter).
BW-75m. Closed captioning.
by Frank Miller