The Trouble with Husbands (1940) - full transcript

Benchley, in his own unique way, starts to drive his wife crazy. First he waits until just as she is serving dinner before he goes to wash his hands and shave. Then she sends him to the store for some butter, and he comes back with everything - except butter. Finally, he decides to install a small shelf on the wall - and makes a major production out of it.

I hope that you
won't think that I'm

prying into your personal life.

But it has been
called to my attention

that there is an
increasing domestic unrest

in this country.

Now by domestic unrest,
I mean that husbands

and wives seem to be getting
on each other's nerves.

Nothing personal, of course.

Here in the laboratory,
we have been working on this problem.

And today we want to take up
what we call the women's angle

in this war of nerves and
show a few of the small things which

husbands do which
can irritate wives

to the point of whatever
that point is just

before a woman kills a man.

Now, here is an example
of a very common trick

among husbands which
is known as the delayed ablutions

trick, in which
the husband waits

until dinner is ready before
getting ready for dinner.

Are you ready for dinner?

Ready and waiting, honey.

What's cooking?

You'll see.

It's a surprise.

This man has just
come home from work.

He's a good man and
mean swell and during this half

hour before dinner,
tries to keep his wife

informed on world affairs.

Listen to this.

It's from Carapuxit, Idaho.

Returning from church yesterday
morning, Jasper Arthur,

97-year-old Carapuxit farmer,
saw something gleaming

at the side of the road.

Stooping to pick it up,
Arthur broke three ribs

but recovered a silver
spoon lost by him as a child

nearly a century ago.

Hey, look at that.

Soup's on.

Come and get it.

I'll be right there.

We need hardly say
that this action

is ill advised at this time.

Among the 35,000 wives
questioned in our survey,

84% agreed that the
husband's waiting to clean up

until dinner is on the table
is one of the greatest

causes of domestic unrest.

Dinner is ready, Joe.

What are you doing?

I'll be right down.

We found in our survey
that at this point

a great many women are
tempted to put poison

into the next plate
of soup, which

may account for the
prevalence of indigestion

among married men.

Here we are.

Oh, clam chowder.

Cold, though.

What have I done?

Now here's a case
of domestic economy

which is neither
domestic nor economical.

And we find it cropping up
usually around about supper

time on Sunday nights.

We just need a half a pound
of butter, that's all.

The delicatessen will have it.

You see, here it is
Sunday night and we have

to buy at the delicatessen.

It cost us twice as much
as at the grocery store.

You ought to have a businessman
run your household for you.

There'd be no more
of this last minute

Sunday night
delicatessen buying.

Pound of butter, is that right?

Half a pound of butter.

Half a pound.

Oh, good evening, sir.

What can I do for you?

Well, I just want half a mark.

Well, something very special,
almost impossible to get

these days, half sour pickle.

Half sour pickle.


$0.60 a dozen.

Give me a dozen.

Yes, sir.

Anything else, sir?

Don't tell me.

I didn't know they
made them anymore.

I haven't had any of
those since I was a kid.

Give me some of those, boy.

Yes, sir.

You might put in three
or four of those pigs feet.

I can eat three myself.

What's this?

Some sort of new way
of doing up bacon?

What do you know about that?

Put one of those in.

[INAUDIBLE] Plenty of onion
in that potato salad?

Give me a, you know,
just a portion of it.


You might put in some
of that pickle [INAUDIBLE]...

Yes. Anything else, sir?


Is that real fresh lobster?


Perfectly safe?


Say, that looks good.

I'll have some of that, I guess.

Thank you very much.

And do come back again.

I certainly will, sir.

This is all for just
this one family?


What's wrong?

Nothing's wrong.

Now that we're running
on a business basis,

now that we buy at
the delicatessen

where they charge twice
as much as they do in the grocery

store, no, nothing's wrong,
except that you've forgotten

the half a pound of butter.


Is it there?


Oh, I'll go right and get it.

No, you don't.

You stay right here.
Never mind.

We'll do without butter.

You're not going back.

Now, here's a case which
we have found in 64%

of the homes investigated.

It is known as the mechanical
husband, or the handyman

about the house.

Excuse me.

Where do you keep
the screwdriver?

Right over in the drawer
where it always is.

What do you want
with the screwdriver?

I'm going to put up
that shelf for you.

Well, do you have to do
it right this minute?

All I hear for
the past two weeks

is when are you going to
put up the shelf in the kitchen.

Now I'm ready, and you
don't want me to do it.

Yeah, I do want you to do it.

I'll be out of here in a minute.

Where is it?

That's a pretty funny
looking screw driver.


We've had it for eight years.

And you bought it.

Is that so?

Where do you want it put?

Right up there.

I just want to put
the clock on it.

Okie doke.

Okie doke.

Where are the screws?

Up on the top shelf
in the closet.

Right up there.

Up here?

These the ones?

You ought to know.

You are the one who's
putting up the shelf.

Or are you?

Why don't we get some of
those new ones, you know?

The ones you just push into
the wall and a vacuum or something

holds it in.

You know what I mean?

Those are the only
screws we've got.

What on Earth are you
putting those on for?

Just a little precaution.

Better to be safe
than sorry, you know.

And now, [INAUDIBLE].

Excuse me.


What is it now?

Just the brackets.

Oh, I brought them
home last night.

What are you going to do?

Build an extension
on the kitchen?

When I do a job, I do it right.

Don't you bother
your pretty head.

You've got my pretty
head to aching already.

I don't think I can watch it
if you don't mind.

It's better that you don't.

This is going to be
no place for a woman.




Well, it's up.

What have you done to your arm?

Oh, just a little cut.

Well, how in the world
did you cut yourself way up there?

Those darn old fashioned
screws, I told you

they were were no good.

I'll get some bandage.

No, no.

I'll take care of it myself.

Come out and see if it's
the way you want it.

Did you want to put anything
on it but the clock?

I think it looks kind
of cute as it is.

Well, I think most of
the wives in the audience

have recognized these little
items which we've enumerated.


Hello, dear.

Yes, I'm almost through.

Yeah, I'll be home in
about half an hour.

Oh, sure.

I'll be home for dinner.

Yeah, just a minute.

Hold the line just a
minute, will you please?

Well, I think we've
covered pretty

well the woman's anger over
these little domestic scenes.

Probably could go on
like this all right.

I'm sure most of the
ladies in the audience

could furnish me with
hundreds of other cases.

And remember men, next week
we take up the men's angle.

And I expect a full attendance.

And it wouldn't hurt
some of you ladies

to drop in, maybe and
see one or two of the little things

you do that irritate us.