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Wife, Husband and Friend

Wife, Husband and Friend(1939)


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The opening of the opera season in New York City is no time for rejoicing in the life of building contractor Leonard Borland. Each year, his wife Doris instantly becomes smitten with the singing bug, a weakness the women in her family are cursed with, according to her father, Major Blair. Upon arriving home one day, Leonard finds Doris exercising her vocal cords under the tutelage of voice teacher Hugo and her overbearing mother. Leonard, taking the bull by the horns, throws both Hugo and his mother-in-law out. Despite this, Doris prepares for a recital that is coming up three months, something Leonard comes to support, believing such a performance will get singing "out of her system." At the last moment, Doris learns that music critic Rudolph Hertz has been given the wrong date for her recital. The dutiful Leonard visits Hertz at a luncheon, and when the critic refuses to attend the recital, Leonard blasts the critic for ignoring his wife. Opera diva Cecil Carver witnesses Leonard's act of love and becomes instantly smitten. Doris' recital is a huge success, due in large part to Leonard's filling the hall with friends and business associates. While Leonard's business suffers under the strain of a recession, Doris continues her spendthrift ways, planning for a major singing career. Cecil calls Leonard and invites him to her apartment to advise him on Doris' career. At their meeting, Cecil tells Leonard that his wife has not a bad voice, but not a good one, either. A telegram arrives informing Cecil that she must perform a song she does not know. Discovering that Leonard knows the song, Cecil convinces him help her learn it. Leonard warns her about his voice and proceeds to shatter a glass. Cecil instantly recognizes that Leonard, not Doris, has the great opera voice and offers to train him. At first Leonard refuses, but Cecil convinces him by playing on his insecurity of being a "boy-made-good who married the society girl." By being a great singer, Cecil tells him, Leonard will finally be on Doris' social level. While Doris' singing career flounders, Leonard's career as "Logan Bennett" meets with great success on a tour of Eastern cities with Cecil. After returning to New York in preparation for a national tour, Leonard finds Doris in bed under doctor's care having been booed off the stage in her professional debut as the opening act at a movie theater. That night, at her mother's party to celebrate her "great success," Doris is confronted by Cecil. Leonard claims innocence to adultery and tells all, but no one believes him until he performs "On the Road to Mandalay." Doris runs from the party and throws Leonard out of their apartment, after which Leonard goes on a week-long drunk, spending what little money he has left, until he is found by Cecil. Back in Cecil's clutches, Leonard is forced to perform the lead in an opera. On opening night, Leonard makes a fool of himself, much to the delight of everyone but Doris. Backstage, Doris goes to Leonard, telling him that she loves him now more than ever. Leonard's business partner, Mike Craig, arrives, and informs him they have a job building a million-dollar racetrack in Florida. On the train to Florida, Leonard and Doris break into a rendition of "Beyond the Blue Horizon." When Mrs. Craig joins in, Mike playfully stuffs a pillow in her mouth.