Don’t Play Bridge With Your Wife

Don’t Play Bridge with Your Wife is a short 18-minute cinematic gem from 1933, made when bridge reached a notorious peak as a popular household game. (Partially, we can thank Ely Culbertson’s Contract Bridge Blue Book for this.) 

The 30s made an interesting time for cinematic history. Gone with the Wind (1939), King Kong (1933), Frankenstein (1931) and The Invisible Man (1933) were all released during this time. 

“Don’t Play Bridge with Your Wife” uses the premise of marital disagreements applied to the bridge table.

Disagreeing couples is a popular cinematic archetype that was inevitable in a bridge movie at some point. Seeing that it’s a game relying on co-operation between bridge partners, what would happen if we took a couple who couldn’t agree on anything and put them at the table? 

At the time, hilarity – and wives dragging their husbands kicking and screaming from the bridge table.

Surprisingly, I’ve seen similar arguments. The worst, however, was this…

Wife: “Bridge is great for keeping the brain sharp.” 
Husband: “It isn’t, I’ve met her bridge partner.” 

Of course, the resulting silence was deafening.

Other Bridge Films of the Time 

This wasn’t the only notable bridge-themed movie of the time. If you’re binge-watching, here are a few more ideas for worthy movies from the same decade.

  • Bridge Wives (1932)
    Apparently being married in the 1930s meant that husbands and wives of the time had no idea what the other was doing. This might have made for a few disastrous marriages, but it made for a few good films.
  • Animal Crackers (1930)
    Not the 2017 movie directed by Scott Sava, and also not the book by Hannah Tinti, but instead a movie starring the Laurel and Hardy duo. Technically, the entire movie isn’t about bridge – but the bridge scene makes it worth adding to this list. 
  • Grand Slam (1933) Grand Slam takes a look at the “fish out of water” premise in the context of bridge. Peter Stanislavinsky marries a bridge player and beats a champion from sheer luck – soon, he finds himself famous for the Stanislavinsky Method, something he made up on the spot. Oddly, this might even make a decent remake. 
  • Sherlock Holmes’ Fatal Hour (1931)
    This one was alternatively known as The Sleeping Cardinal, and while it’s not part of the original Holmes canon, it makes a very worthy adaptation (and the only appearance that I know of where Sherlock plays bridge).