Top 10 Movies About Mail Order Brides

1. Birthday Girl (2001)

A thirty something bank clerk from St. Albans has his small-town life exploded by the arrival of his Russian mail order bride. John Buckingham (Ben Chaplin), a lonely St. Albans bank clerk, orders a mail order bride through an online marriage broker called From Russia With Love, he obtains a mail order bride, Nadia (Nicole Kidman) from Russia on the Internet.

John is uncomfortable and shy, but Nadia is sexually bold. Her skills in the bedroom more than make up for any communication problems.  Though Nadia cannot speak English and John cannot speak Russian, they soon bond.

While he’s more than pleased that his new fiancée is so beautiful, she turns out to have a dangerous and mysterious side that he wasn’t counting on. And things become quite complicated when her cousin Yuri (Mathieu Kassovitz) and his friend Alexei (Vincent Cassel) arrive and turn up from Russia to celebrate her birthday and move into his tiny house in St. Albans.

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John learns that the trio has carried out the same scam on men from Switzerland and Germany, among others. Alexei soon shows that he has a temper. After a violent altercation, Alexei holds Nadia hostage and demands a ransom from John.

Eventually, both John’s career and life are threatened. John has grown to care for Nadia and is forced to steal from the bank where he has worked for ten years.

They take him prisoner, strip him down to his underpants, and tie him to a toilet in a motel. He eventually manages to free himself and quickly learns that Nadia has been left behind after Alexei discovered she was pregnant.

After the ransom is paid, he realizes that he has been the victim of an elaborate con. Nadia, Yuri, and Alexei are criminals, and Alexei is actually Nadia’s boyfriend. She later reveals that she can indeed speak English and that her name is not Nadia. John takes Nadia to turn her into the police – hoping to clear his name as a wanted bank robber.

Ultimately, however, he sympathizes with her and decides against it. He leaves her at the airport, where she is kidnapped by Alexei – who now wants Nadia to have the baby. John rescues her, tying Alexei to a chair. They make common cause against the two Russian men. Nadia informs John that her real name is Sophia. John, disguised as Alexei, leaves for Russia with Sophia.

Does this kind of thing ever happen in real life?

Well, there have been plenty of highly publicized cases of mail order brides bilking unsuspecting men out of money, property and green cards – but according to most reliable sources, the vast majority of marriages of Western men to foreign women turn out better than these films would have us believe. As a matter of fact, the divorce rate for these marriages is far lower than that of regular marriages.

2. The Outsider (1994)

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John Gower, a rancher and a widower, trying to take care of his land and his daughter, JD. One day, he discovers a woman nearly dead. And he learns that his neighbor, Tom Fender, was killed. When the woman, Juliana recovers, she reveals herself to be Tom Fender’s mail order bride.

John then tells the Sheriff about this. He reluctantly agrees to take in his neighbor’s widow – but just as he and his daughter are getting used to their strange house guest, a bloody feud threatens to destroy them all.

It seems that Colonel Howling wants to buy Fender’s land, and a dispute ensues, cause thinking that Fender had no family, Howling arranges to buy the land at a public auction. And Juliana reveals that it was Howling’s son who killed Fender and tried to kill her but Howling uses his influence to stop that but Gower who has grudge against Howling tries to prove her right.

The Outsider is a Western movie starring Grainger Hines and Sabrina Chateau.

3. Mail Order Bride (1964)

Will Lane, an ageing cowboy who owes a debt of honour to his dead buddy, whose son Lee Carey (Keir Dullea) stands to inherit his modest Montana ranch and instructed not to let Lee, have it until Lee gives up his immature ways.

The trouble is Lee’s a bit of a lad who’d rather be drinking in town with his no-good friend, Jace (Warren Oates), or testing the bedsprings of Marietta, the local tart with a heart (BarBara Luna), and his pa knew only too well that, without proper guidance, he’d end up frittering away his inheritance.

So Will is tasked with teaching the boy some standards, and hits upon the idea of ordering a mail order bride whom, he hopes, will domesticate the wild buck.

One provision is that Lee must marry. Lane uses a catalog to look for a suitable wife. He ends up finding Annie Boley, a widow from Kansas City. The bride isn’t actually mail order at all. She’s the cleaner at a Kansas City saloon suggested to Will by the proprietress who actually did advertise herself in a mail order catalogue but proves a little too long in the tooth for Lee (but not for Will, as it turns out).

She’s no Marietta, but she possesses a warmth and strength of character that make her an ideal candidate to tame young Lee. The problem is she also has a young son, and so, in allegiance with Annie, Lee reluctantly pretends to be going along with things until Will is satisfied and disappears.

Lee agrees to marry her, with ranch hand Jace as his best man, but assures Annie that their marriage will be in name only, with no other marital obligations. Lane learns that Jace has been stealing cattle. Lee refuses to believe it until Jace proposes they rustle together and leave the ranch in ruins.

But after a fire is set by Jace with the woman and boy still inside the house, Lee rescues them and comes to his senses. He now has a family and vows to rebuild the ranch, so Lane hands him the deed and rides home to Kansas City.

Many viewers avoided Mail Order Bride upon its first release, assuming that the picture had been slapped together to capitalize on the popularity of Beverly Hillbillies star Buddy Ebsen.

In truth, the film is an engaging and involving western drama, with Ebsen playing a character far removed from Jed Clampett.

Mail Order Bride is a 1964 western film starring Buddy Ebsen, Keir Dullea and Lois Nettleton, directed by Burt Kennedy.

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4. Mail Order Bride (2008)

Diana McQueen (Daphne Zuniga) has been working, against her will, for Boston conman Tom Rourke (Greg Evigan) since she was 12 years old, running scams, stealing and lying. She decides to skip out of town and leave her boss, behind.

To avoid the conflict that would result by her quick disappearance, she switches places with a dying friend, who had planned on becoming a man’s mail-order bride.  Seeing that this is her only chance to escape, she takes on the role and lies to the unsuspecting frontiersman (Cameron Bancroft).

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Diana’s friend Jen, ill with tuberculosis, has been corresponding with Beau Canfield (Cameron Bancroft), a Wyoming Rancher she’s never met, but plans to marry. When Jen dies, Diana seizes the opportunity to start her life over by stealing Rourke’s money.

Pretending to be Jen, she moves out west to marry Beau. As Beau battles against the local Cattleman’s Association, Diana falls back on her old ways, and jumps at the chance to get enough cash to run away again.

Just when Beau figures out who Diana really is, Rourke discovers where she is hiding, and the ensuing showdown turns the whole town upside-down and changes the future for all of them.

Mail Order Bride is a Hallmark Channel television film set in the time of the Old West. It premiered on November 8, 2008, and stars Daphne Zuniga.

5. Mail Order Wife (2004)

Andrew (Andrew Gurland) is a documentary filmmaker who wants to make a picture about modern-day mail order marriage.  This young filmmaker unwittingly gets a bit too involved with his subjects in this darkly comic mockumentary. This strange, often silly mockumentary compares the love that two very different men feel for the same simple, submissive helpmate.

Andrew thinks he’s found the perfect subject for his film when he meets Adrian (Adrian Martinez), a stocky snake enthusiast from Queens, NY, who earns his living as a doorman and has never had much luck with women.

Adrian wants to choose a bride from a professional marriage broker’s agency called Paradise Girls, a matchmaking service for American men and Asian women and he agrees to fund the N.Y.C. doorman’s East Asian mail-order bride in exchange for the right to film the experience and make a movie about him.. Andrew is on hand for her arrival and her early days as a bride/handmaid.

Adrian soon weds Lichi (Eugenia Yuan), an attractive Burmese woman, but Andrew is less than pleased to discover what Adrian really wants from his relationship is a woman who will feed mice to his pet python, make chili just the way he likes it, and keep the house spotless while occasionally indulging some of his odder sexual fantasies. Lichi isn’t happy either, and at Andrew’s urging she leaves Adrian and moves into Andrew’s apartment until she decides what to do next.

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Andrew falls for Lichi, and before long he asks for her hand in marriage; however, her relationship with Adrian has stripped Lichi of her illusions, and she becomes a very demanding bride who loudly speaks her mind and has accumulated a large and expensive collection of pig-related knick knacks.

When that marriage sours, Lichi takes refuge in the filmmaker’s home, inspires him to ditch his fiancee, and a new romance arises with its own set of injustices. The narrative sustains 30 solid minutes of ingenuity, before breaking into a version of Charlie Kaufman-style absurdity.

The writer-directors, Andrew Gurland and Huck Botko, cast themselves as the edgy documentarians and then waste their intelligent comparisons about race, gender and class on a madcap mission of revenge. Like the strange love depicted on screen, the film felt so good at first, but it was all wrong.

Ultimately, Mail Order Wife is funny, extremely well acted, and at times somewhat disturbing if you’re unable to laugh at yourself. If you are looking for a feel good movie, this probably isn’t for you. But if you’re looking for laughs, surprises, and moments of delicious discomfort, you’ve come to the right place.

6. Zandy’s Bride (1974)

Based on Lillian Bos Ross’ novel The Stranger and adapted by screenwriter Marc Norman, Zandy’s Bride is a romantic Western movie starring (Gene Hackman) as gruff rural rancher Zandy Allan.

Zandy Allan is a hard-working cattle rancher in a remote part of the American West who needs a hired hand more than he needs a wife. He sends away for a mail-order bride, a Swedish woman who lives near Minneapolis. He purchases a mail-order bride, Hannah Lund (Liv Ullmann).

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Expecting a woman in her 20s, Zandy is surprised when Hannah Lund turns out to be 32. He doesn’t get what he expected. His bride is anything but compliant, bearing a headstrong attitude that rubs Zandy the wrong way. He is not interested in love, only in work, although this does not keep him from misbehaving around a local woman named Maria. Hannah is here, in his mind, strictly to help Zandy and his family run the ranch.

Zandy is unaccustomed to the ways of the world and clearly a fish out of water during a visit to San Francisco. He treats her as a possession, without respect or humanity, until their shared ordeal as they struggle to survive develops in him a growing love.

The more time he spends with Hannah, meanwhile, the less he comes to treat her as a mere possession that he has bought. Although he mistreats her at first, Zandy and Hannah fall in love as hardship hits and they must struggle together for their survival.

Also starring Eileen Heckart and Harry Dean Stanton, Zandy’s Bride was also released under the title For Better, For Worse.

7. Westward the Women (1951)

A trail guide escorts a group of women from Chicago to California to marry men that have recently began settling there.

Rugged pioneers. Indian fighters. Brave trailblazers. These are the WOMEN who tamed the Wild West. Based on historical record, this wagon train saga details a 2,000 mile journey from Chicago to California.

Buck Wyatt (Robert Taylor) is a tough, experienced scout who leads a wagon train full of women, including two prostitutes (Denise Darcel and Julie Bishop), a hearty widow (character great Hope Emerson), and an Italian immigrant widow, with fifteen men acting as guides.

Telling the women about his valley, Roy encourages them to pick their prospective mates from pictures he has tacked to a board. Two saloon girls, Fifi Danon (Denise Darcel) and Laurie Smith (Julie Bishop), hastily change their flashy clothes when others like them are rejected. Roy is not fooled by their disguise, but convinced of their sincere wish to reform, he adds them to the group.

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 When one of the men disobeys Buck’s orders not to fraternize with the ladies, during the journey, Buck shoots him, causing the others to desert.

As a result, all but two of the trail hands desert the wagons in the middle of the night, taking eight of the women with them.

This leaves only Ito (Henry Nakamura), the Japanese cook, and Sid Cutler (an uncredited Pat Conway), who has fallen in love with an already-pregnant Rose Meyers (Beverly Dennis), to lead the train.

Buck, feeling he cannot continue without more experienced hands, decides the group must turn back. The women refuse to accept his decision. Roy believes that the women can learn to do “a man’s job”. So instead of turning back, the determined women insist on going on, learning to ride, shoot and drive mules, so Buck starts training them.

Although treacherous terrain and a deadly ambush lay ahead, these tough ladies are filled with the American frontier spirit and nothing will stop them!

However, the only child in the group is accidentally shot by his own mother during shooting practice. Buck is forced to knock out the distraught woman, (Renata Vanni) when she refuses to leave her son’s grave in the desert. The women perform heroically, persevering through many hardships, including a stampede.

Westward the Women is a 1951 western film directed by William A. Wellman from a story by Frank Capra.

8. 2 Brothers & a Bride (A Foreign Affair)(2004)

Two men look for a wife — just one will do, thank you — in this offbeat comedy. Jake (Tim Blake Nelson) and Josh (David Arquette) are two brothers who live and work in a vegetable farm somewhere in the Midwest, where they’re looked after by their Ma (Lois Smith), who cooks, cleans, and keeps the guys company.

When Ma dies, Jake and Josh find they’re a bit lonely all by their lonesome, and more importantly, they’re not much good at everyday domestic activities.

Her sudden death throws the boys for a loop and it isn’t long before it becomes painfully clear that they are not capable of doing for themselves even to the point of extinction, so they decide to do the sensible thing — one of them will get married so they’ll have someone else to talk to and handle things in the kitchen and the laundry room.

They decide to join a romance tour to Russia to find and bring home a traditionally minded wife. One day Jake stumbles upon an advertisement for a “romance tour” in St. Petersburg, Russia.

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Woefully naïve, socially clumsy, and less interested in romance than day-to-day practicalities, Jake and Josh decide to head out on a matchmaking tour to St. Petersburg, Russia, where they’re promised introductions to hundreds of women over the space of two weeks, in hopes that they’ll find an understanding, old-fashioned wife who doesn’t mind having a third wheel around at all times.

Throughout the film there is a sly low-key wit that keeps the wheels from falling off the turnip truck, and thanks to solid performances that manage to sell this cock-eyed premise, Two Brothers and a Bride holds your interest and a little bit of a plot twist toward the end gives it enough of a romantic comedy sensibility to make it a film worth checking out. It makes for a good date movie and not a bad film for the whole family, especially if they’re from certain parts of Utah.

2 Brothers & a Bride (A Foreign Affair) was shot on location in St. Petersburg in the former Soviet Union, and in Chihuahua, Mexico, which stood in for the United States.

9. Picture Bride (1995)

The story of an orphaned 17-year-old Riyo who journeys from Yokohama to Hawaii in 1918 to marry a man she has never met (Matsuji), except through photographs and letters they have exchanged.

The struggles of a young Japanese who leaves her home to marry an stranger are chronicled in this historical drama based on true stories. Picture brides were Japanese women contracted to marry Japanese sugar-cane laborers working in Hawaii. The couple would agree to marry based on the photos they sent to one another.

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Hoping to escape a troubled past and to start anew, Riyo is bitterly disappointed upon her arrival: She is appalled to see that Matsuji sent her an old photograph and that he is 25 years older than she and  Hawaii is not the paradise she expected. Angered, the spunky bride refuses to sleep with her new husband. As Riyo comes to terms with her new home, she discovers a land full of hardship, struggle–and unexpected joy.

She is however obligated to work on the plantation. The miserable girl finds solace with her new friend Kana, a young mother. Riyo decides she will earn her way back to Japan even though, at only sixty five cents per day, it could take years to save the $300 for the return fare.

She meets more obstacles and continues to stay away from her husband until a tragedy befalls Kana. This serves to bring the two together and leads Riyo to accept her new life.

The film is approximately divided between spoken English and Japanese with Japanese subtitles for the spoken Japanese.

10. Russian Doll (2001)

Most people fall in love and get married, but one man does it the other way around in this romantic comedy from Australia. Harvey (Hugo Weaving) is a private detective who derives the bulk of his work from unhappily married people wanting to know if their spouses are being unfaithful.

Harvey finds this work depressing and wishes he could quit devoting himself to writing crime fiction. Harvey, already suffering from a self-esteem problem, is devastated. Harvey’s career has also given him a rather jaundiced view of romance, which is unfortunately confirmed when he’s hired to keep tabs on a college professor and discovers he’s having an affair with one of his students — who also happens to be Harvey’s fiancée.

Harvey’s best friend is a publishing executive named Ethan (David Wenham), who is happily married to Miriam (Rebecca Frith). Or that’s what Harvey thinks; he soon learns the truth when Ethan confesses he’s been having a passionate affair with a young, pretty Russian-Jewish Katia (Natalia Novikova) as she has arrived in Sydney as a “mail order bride” set up through a Jewish matchmaking agency.

She arrives at her intended’s flat and finds him dead from an apparent heart attack.  Alone in the big city, she is be-friended by Ethan (David Wenham, of “Sea Change” fame), who is apparently happily married to Miriam (Rebecca Frith), and they soon become lovers.

After months of the secret affair, Ethan is keen to keep Katia in Australia legally so approaches his best friend Harvey to propose a marriage of convenience with Katia.  Traditional values Harvey is appalled, but soon succumbs to Ethan’s offer of financial support that will allow him to pursue his writing career full-time.  So Katia moves in with Harvey in anticipation of their fake wedding.

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Katia’s visa is about to expire, and Ethan is desperate to keep her from going back to Russia; the easiest way to allow her to stay in Australia would be to marry her, but Ethan doesn’t want to divorce Miriam just yet. Instead, Ethan offers to make a deal with Harvey — Ethan will pay him a large amount of money if he’d be willing to wed Katia.

A number of unexpected problems arise:  even though it is to be a fake one, Katia still wants a Jewish wedding; Miriam meets Katia and helps her plan a big event; and Katia’s noisy lifestyle interferes with Harvey’s desire for peace and quiet.

Along the way, Katia introduces Harvey to Sydney’s Russian community, and he meets Latvian Liza (Sacha Horler), who in turn falls for him.  As the web of relationships becomes even more tangled, the wedding day approaches.

Although shot for a miniscule budget, “Russian Doll” is frequently funny, and remarkably and surprisingly entertaining.  It had two Australian Film Institute nominations:  for best original screenplay (which it won), and best supporting actress for Horler.

The script is light, the direction and editing by Kazantzidis – who obviously understands the migrant experience – is deft; and the performances are enjoyable, particularly anchored by Novikova’s charming and very convincing Katia.  “Russian Doll” breaks no new directorial or thematic ground, and there are lots of hints of Woody Allen influences (although nothing wrong with that).

Russian Doll is a 2001 film by Stavros Kazantzidis starring Hugo Weaving

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