Just when I thought I’d seen every fun Cary Grant comedy there was to see, I came across this. The title is not very promising, but for Cary Grant, I was willing to brave it. Though the film does somewhat live up to the sexist promise of it’s title, it is a novel tale and a pretty fun ride!
Anabel Sims (Betsy Drake) has a very valid question for her bosom buddy Julie (Diana Lynn) – why can't women ask men out, take them out on long drives (and run out of gas), and send them flowers the next day? Julie has no answer, but Anabel decides that there is nothing to stop her from doing just that! It is Dr. Madison Brown’s (Cary Grant) good fortune – though he does not appear to appreciate that – that her eyes light upon him just when she’s made up her mind to ask her Mr. Right on a date.
Dr. Madison had merely dropped by to purchase a baby magazine at Anabel’s lunch haunt. How was he to know that this small detour would endanger his bachelor’s degree? Anabel is rather fond of babies herself, and immediately warms to a man who'd publicly buy a baby digest. When she asks him how many babies he has, he assures her that he has none – because he is not married! So he looks like Cary Grant, loves babies and is unmarried? Naturally he is Anabel’s Mr. Right. And of course, fate plays into Anabel’s hands.
Anabel works at the baby clothes counter in Sanford’s departmental store. When Madison turns up at her counter to order baby booties, she is a bit shaken. But all is soon resolved. She finds out that he is not plain Mr. Right but Dr. Right and is merely buying baby things for a charity. Now that all is sorted out, she just has to convince him that the two of them belong together, and they can live happily-ever-after. But
Dr. Right Madison is not on the same page as Anabel and is rather slow to catch up. In spite of two chance meetings, he still does not recognise his true love in her! Undaunted, Anabel sets to work…
She tracks him down to his surgery and tries to get on his patients' list. Dr. Madison makes it clear that his interest in children is strictly professional – he is a paediatrician – and his interest in Anabel is absolutely nil. Anabel refuses to let this setback get her down. She will ask the lovely doctor to be her lawfully wedded groom and he will say yay, come hell or high water!
Since direct tactics are clearly useless, it’s time to strategize. What would make the good doctor sit up and take notice of her? Some healthy competition from a better suitor. This decided, she first sets out to get to know her to-be-groom. She gathers information about his habits, his likes and dislikes, and anything else that may be relevant to her suit. The reconnaissance done, it’s time for operation woo Madison. Anabel 'borrows' an expensive dinner gown from Sanford’s and 'just happens' to turn up for a romantic tryst with an imaginary boy friend at Madison’s favourite restaurant.
This time Madison does recognise her and comes over to say hi. She makes it very clear that she is waiting for a rich, glamorous and very importunate suitor and he must not stay for long. Madison plays along and draws out of her that she is "about to meet the rich and handsome Mr. Roger Sanford", owner of the department store she works in. Then he makes it clear that he does not believe a word of it. He knows she is after him, because she’s been pumping all his contacts for information about him. A lesser woman would’ve abandoned the unappreciative Dr. Madison there and then. But our heroine is made of sterner stuff. She promptly tells him that she merely wanted Roger Sanford to think that she is after him (Madison). If Roger thinks he is likely to lose her to another man, he would propose ASAP.
Madison is quite appreciative of Anabel’s ingenuity and is too polite to tell her that he thinks she is lying. Just as well, since Anabel’s story is unexpectedly supported by Roger Sanford (Franchot Tone) himself. Roger had just come in on a date, but when told by the maître d’ that a lovely young woman has booked a table in his name, he is intrigued enough to ditch his date for this lovely stranger. Madison finds himself summarily dismissed and Roger soon carries away "darling" Anabel for a more intimate evening.
Roger and Anabel’s date does not end happily for either of them. He ends up arguing with the wrong end of a shovel and she ends up having to pay for the expensive gown she'd 'borrowed' from Sanford’s. But Anabel is never one to be daunted by setbacks. A few days later, she is out for lunch when she realises that not only is Madison walking just across the street, Roger Sanford is walking beside her! She seizes the opportunity to ask Roger for a kiss, so Madison can see them together. Madison does, but so does a reporter and his camera. So now Anabel is romantically linked to Roger!
Roger is not happy when a picture of him kissing Anabel makes it to the gossip columns. But once he is convinced that Anabel is really interested in Madison, he is intrigued by her. So Anabel’s plan has worked, and she does have one suitable suitor on string. But it is not the man she’d set her heart on. So Dr. Madison will take some more courting. That is a tough break, but a girl’s gotta do what a girl's gotta do. And our Anabel is not one to shirk her duty. Madison must be courted and wedded. He cannot be left to dwindle into an old and lonely bachelor. But will she be able to complete her quest? What about the glamorous and rich Roger Sanford? Doesn’t he deserve saving as much as Madison does? What’s a girl to do in such a tough situation?
Anabel may get into some tough spots, but we have a ton of fun seeing her talk/plan her way out them. I loved the story and thought it was pretty novel and interesting. How often do you get to see a woman initiate and pursue a courtship in your average romantic comedy? What I could’ve done without is how she sets out to woo her doctor by trying to convince him that having a wife would increase his domestic comforts! Since it is a 40s film, I don’t really hold that against it. The only thing that I did object to, rather strongly, was how everybody labeled Anabel’s antics as "trapping a man into marriage", albeit for his own good. So if a man pursues a woman he likes, it’s courtship leading to romance and marriage, but a woman doing so is out to "entrap a man"? Really?! Now if you can ignore such slights to your feminist sensibilities, and for such a fun film and Cary Grant I can ignore a lot more, then I strongly recommend you check this one out!