I Was a Male War Bride (1949)

Cary Grant and Ann Sheridan
Cary Grant and Ann Sheridan

'I Was a Male War Bride' is a romantic screwball comedy film made in 1949, directed by Howard Hawks and starring Cary Grant and Ann Sheridan. The movie is based on a story written in 1947 by Belgian, Dr. Roger H. Charlier, who wrote under the name Henri Rochard. The movie is also known as 'You Can't Sleep Here'.

The film was a substantial box office success, at over $4.5 million the third highest grossing film of 1949. It is best remembered for Cary Grant dressed as a woman, although he actually appears on screen in drag for about ten minutes The film was the third highest grossing movie of Howard Hawks' s career, after 'Sergeant York' in 1941 and 'Red River' in 1948.

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The movie is set in postwar Germany where Cary Grant plays a French Army officer, Captain Henri Rochard who is ordered to go on a mission with an American WAC officer, Lt. Catherine Gates. At first the two don't get on at all but end up falling in love and get married. Their problems begin on their wedding night when she gets orders to leave for America.The military regulations contained in the War Brides Act were for foreign brides marrying American servicemen, not foreign grooms, so the only way it can be handled is for Cary to dress as a 'war bride'. And then the fun begins.


This was the fourth movie collaboration between Howard Hawks and Cary Grant, after ''Bringing Up Baby' in 1938, the drama 'Only Angels Have Wings' in 1939, and 'His Girl Friday' in 1940. They would make one more film together, ' Monkey Business' in 1952.

Shooting began in late September, 1948, and continued intermittently for over 8 months due to the variety of illnesses suffered by cast members. The delay in production increased the budget to over $2 million. Cary Grant was the worst affected, going down with hepatitis which caused a three month shutdown whilst he regained the 30 pounds in weight which he lost. In addition, Ann Sheridan suffered from pleurisy and pneumonia, which shut down filming for two weeks.

The movie was shot on location, primarily in Heidelberg, with interiors filmed in Shepperton Studios, London and in Los Angeles at 20th Century Fox Studios.

Rex Harrison and Louis Jordan were considered for the leading man role before Grant was finally selected. Ava Gardner, then just starting her career, was briefly considered for the part of Catherine Gates but Hawks preferred the more experienced Ann Sheridan whom he had screen tested for 'The Road to Glory' in 1936.

Cary Grant started his entertainment career as a stage acrobat in England and in the movie he did his own stunts such as climbing up signposts (to find a "Wet Paint" sign) and straddling level crossing gates (which immediately rise).

Main Cast

Cary Grant ... Capt. Henri Rochard
Ann Sheridan ... Lt. Catherine Gates
Marion Marshall ... Lt. Kitty Lawrence
Randy Stuart ... Lt. Eloise Billings (Mae)
William Neff ... Capt. Jack Rumsey
Eugene Gericke ... Tony Jowitt
Ruben Wendorf ... Innkeeper's Assistant
Lester Sharpe ... Walter
John Whitney ... Trumble
Kenneth Tobey ... Seaman
Robert Stevenson ... Lieutenant
Alfred Linder ... Bartender
David McMahon ... Chaplain
Joe Haworth ... Shore Patrol
Gil Herman ... Naval Officer
Lily Kann ... Innkeeper's Wife
Harry Lauter ... Lieutenant
Alex Gerry ... Waiter
André Charlot ... French Minister
Russ Conway ... Cmdr. Willis
Mike Mahoney ... Sailor
William McLean ... Expectant GI
Paul Hardtmuth' ... Burgomeister
Barbara Perry ... Tall WAC
William Pullen ... Sergeant Otto Reichow
Bill Self ... Sergeant
John Serret ... French Notary
Martin Miller ... Schindler
William Murphy ... Sergeant
William Yetter, Jr. ... German Policeman
John Zilly ... Shore Patrol
Kay Young ... Maj. Prendergast

Cary Grant (1904-86
Cary Grant is one of the great legends from Hollywood's Golden Age. The Cary Grant filmography charts a long and very successful career in which he starred in more than 70 movies, many of them classics such as 'The Philadelphia Story', 'Charade', and 'Notorious', and he was twice nominated for Oscars. He was runner up to Humphrey Bogart in The AFI's all time list of Greatest Male Stars.
His acting style was natural and uniquely his own. His screen persona was that of a a suave, self-assured, debonair man about town, and was immensely appealing to both men and women. His good looks were an asset of course but he had great talent and had no need to depend on his looks alone. In 1970 he was presented with a special Oscar to commemorate his career, and when he died in 1986 there had been no decline in his popularity. He was still one of the most popular and most loved movie stars in Hollywood.
Ann Sheridan(1915-67)
Ann was given a contract with Paramount after winning a beauty contest. She made her movie debut in 1934 but her career only took off when she left Paramount and joined Warner Brothers. She appeared in a number of highly successful quality movies such as 'Angels with Dirty Faces' in 1938, 'They Drive by Night' in 1940, and 'Kings Row' in 1942. She died from cancer, aged just 51.


Director ... Howard Hawks
Producer ... Sol C. Siegel
Original Story ... Henri Rochard (biography)
Screenplay ... Hagar Wilde, Leonard Spigelgass, Charles Lederer
Music ... Cyril Mockridge
Cinematography ... Hagar Wilde, Leonard Spigelgass, Charles Lederer
Distribution Company ... 20th Century Fox
Release date ... August 19, 1949
Running time ... 105 minutes

Academy Awards

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