Holy Matrimony - 1943

A hugely successful artist assumes the identity of his recently deceased man servant, only to become accused of his own murder

An artist (Monty Wooley) who has spent decades overseas painting and simultaneously becoming famous back home in Britain is summoned to return to London on command of the King to be honored for his career.

Loathing to engage with the problems of celebrity, he arrives back only to have his longtime manservant (Eric Blore) die from double pneumonia. In the confusion following the death the artist is mistaken for the manservant and visa versa, and seeing a way out of dealing with fame, assumes his dead employee's identity.

Shortly afterward he is confronted by a woman (Gracie Fields) who had been corresponding with the dead manservant over possible matrimony, and not knowing that the artist had pulled a switch because she had never actually met the man she'd been writing to, the pair are convivial together and are soon married.

A contented married life in a humble, charming home commences, but then the (unexpected) previous wife of the manservant, plus three grown children, appear, along with the problem of the new paintings the artist has been producing which are recognized as being from the hand of a famous man who everyone thinks is buried at Westminster Abbey. This leads to a bizarre trial focused on whether the dead artist (or manservant) possessed certain body moles for identification, with the abandoned wife of the dead manservant almost certain that the man on trial really is her missing husbands from decades before.

This gentle comedy has a genuinely unique story to it and Gracie Fields provides a perfect performance as the determined wife who views life in pragmatic terms. Her "down to earth" attitude brings her face to face with the question of how her new husband's paintings can be so extremely valuable. She accepts this situation though it puts a question mark onto her face and has her (hilariously) using a hand to cover one eye to pear at them again and again, struggling to understand the outrageous prices the paintings bring.

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Original Page March 18, 2024