Millionaire banker Michael Brandon (Gary Cooper) is holidaying on the Riviera, or to be more accurate, is shopping for pyjama tops on the Riviera, when he meets feisty free-spirit, Nicole De Loiselle (Claudette Colbert), who just happens to be shopping for pyjama bottoms. The spark is instantly lit, and it's not long before they're married, but what Brandon has failed to mention during their whirlwind courtship, is that he's been married before. Seven times in fact.
It seems that Brandon has a rather diffident attitude towards marriage, and not wishing to be another statistic, Nicole decides to withhold her affections, and give Brandon a taste of his own medicine.
It's odd, that with the pedigree of romantic-comedy virtuoso director Ernst Lubitsch, here working for the first time with the writing team of Charles Brackett and Billy Wilder, on an adaptation of the hit French play 'La huitième femme de Barbe-Bleue' by Alfred Savoir, and starring not only Gary Cooper and Claudette Colbert, but the supporting team of David Niven and the magnificent Edward Everett Horton, that the film is so curiously unappealing.
As much as the dialogue clicks in most scenes, there are barren stretches of exposition. While the deft presence of Edward Everett Horton (as an impoverished French nobleman turned scoundrel, no less) should give viewers a case of the amber grins, his role is a humourless, underwritten nothing. David Niven's Albert does perk things up moderately, especially towards the conclusion when he's roped in to help Colbert's scheme, but his appearances are too few and far between.
The main problem is that the movie's main characters are so darn un-fun to watch. Nicole doesn't seem to be able to make up her mind, and her plan of action is never clear. Is she angry with Brandon? Why exactly? Does she love him, or does she genuinely dislike him? Same goes for Brandon. There's a scene around the two-thirds mark, where he seems to be winning Nicole over, only to make a ridiculously sexist remark about wives and husbands and spoil the whole thing.
The result isn't that the film is charming, but annoying. It's weird, because Billy Wilder's fingerprints are all over this thing, and yet it feels like a poor imitation of his better work. To be fair, his next script was the sensational 'Midnight', again with Colbert.
With this in mind, 'Bluebeard's Eighth Wife' is the disappointing prom-night that led to a show-stopping graduation.