Luise made her UK stage debut in 1939 in this light comedy by the French playwright Jacques Deval. Deval, the son of a theatre director had been writing plays since the late 1910s, but was riding high with British theatregoers in the 1930s after the huge success of his romantic comedy Tovarich, starring Cedric Hardwicke and Eugenie Leontovich which had ran for over 400 performances at the Lyric between 1935 and 1936. His first play performed in London had been the 1931 production of St. Etienne, and following the success of Tovarich, Noel Coward had produced Mademoiselle in 1936 ( Luise had appeared some years earlier in a German production). Neither of these had come close to the phenomenal success of Tovarich, but his work was still in demand hoping to repeat that winning formula. Thus Behold the Bride became the fourth Deval production to hit the West End. With light comedy and elements of farce, dealing with a marital mix-up and an expectant mother, some critics weren’t kind to it, offering opinions that it was ‘sentimental claptrap’, but others were charmed by the play and the performances; Theatre World magazine included it in their recommendations for the month stating that, “[Luise Rainer’s] gifts for comedy and pathos are unrivalled”. The Spectatorcalled the play ‘inept and inane’ and declared that Luise ‘overacts with the breathless impenitence of a puppy’.
Deval was a prolific author, with 40 plays and four novels to his name when he died in 1972. From the 1930s he also wrote numerous screenplays in Hollywood and contributed to many others, mostly uncredited, including some work on Dramatic School. This play was first produced in Europe under the title Soubrette, Deval took the play with him when he emigrated to America in 1937 and sold the rights to Paramount Studios who made a film version in 1938, retitled as Say It In French, starring Olympe Bradna as the bride and Ray Milland as her leading man, with the mother-to-be storyline neatly excised. Silent movie star Irene Rich debuted in the American stage version, which was partly based on both the original play and the Paramount movie, now retitled as A Broom for the Bride, in San Francisco in March 1939.
This British production opened first at Manchester’s Palace Theatre on May 1st 1939, where it played for one week before transferring to the West End on May 23rd, where it ran for fifty performances, once again renamed as Behold the Bride.
Henry Sherek Ltd. in association with Tom Arnold Ltd.
Behold the Bride
by Jacques Deval
(by arrangement with Modern Play Productions, Ltd.)
Directed by Richard Bird
The management wish to express their sincere thanks to Mr. Geoffrey Kerr for his valuable assistance during the production of this play.
General Manager: Stanley Brightman
Stage Director: Anthony Marshall
Stage Manager: Stanley Bell, Jr.
Press Representatives: George Elliot and Anthony Vivian
Scenery designed and painted by The Harkers
Built by Loveday & Higson
Dresses by Schiaparelli
Shoes by H. & M. Rayne
Stockings by Bondor
Gin by Seagers
Suit Cases kindly lent by Selfridges
Telephones kindly lent by the Post Office
Vacuum Cleaner kindly lent by Hoover Ltd.
Electrical Equipment supplied by Venrico, Ltd.
Furniture and Decorations by The Old Times Furnishing Co.
Wigs by Nathanwigs, Ltd.
Cigarettes by Abdulla
Jeanne de Casalis as Laura Carrington
Jack Lambert as Joris (the Butler)
Jacqueline Squire as Phyllis Carrington
Evelyn Roberts as Stanley Carrington
Luise Rainer as Francoise
Griffith Jones as Eric Carrington
Sybil Wise as Deborah Massuber
Charles Maunsell as Wilbur Massuber
Hazel Terry as Auriol Massuber
C. Jervis Walter as Dr. Percy Gooch
(from left) Luise, with Griffith Jones; Jacqueline Squire, Evelyn Roberts and Jeanne de Casalis;
(with apologies for the quality of these scans)