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Film / I Was a Male War Bride

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"I am an alien spouse of female military personnel en route to the United States under public law 271 of the Congress."
Henri Rochard

A 1949 Screwball Comedy directed by Howard Hawks, starring Cary Grant and Ann Sheridan.

Captain Henri Rochard (Grant), of the French army, and First Lieutenant Catherine Gates (Sheridan), of the American, are assigned a mission together to stop a German high-level scientist in postwar Germany. Through a wacky series of misadventures, they fall in love, and encounter various bureaucratic hassles in trying to get married.

When Catherine's army unit gets recalled back to the USA, things get worse: the only way they have to stay together is by invoking a law allowing the spouse of American army personnel to enter the country—the War Bride's act. Zany gender-confusing antics follow.

This film contains examples of:

  • Armed Farces: It's a story about the incredible heights (or depths) military bureacracy can reach, only slightly exaggerated.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: The first half of the movie is basically one extended vitriolic argument between Henri and Catherine, right up until they confess their love.
  • Disguised in Drag: Henri resorts to dressing as a woman to get on the ship with his wife.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Cary Grant doesn't even try to fake a French accent, but it's slyly camoflauged as his character having a perfect American accent.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The film was adapted from a memoir by the real-life Henri Rochard, a Belgian and former POW who married an American nurse he met in the hospital after getting hit by a car while serving as a liaison officer during the Nuremberg trials.