Wednesday, October 23, 2013

And So They Were Married (1936)


“Women - well, after all they do make gentlemen of us.”


            Old Hollywood is full of films about marriage. Usually the plot is about a couple who gets divorced and then they figure out they made a mistake and they still love each other (The Awful Truth, His Girl Friday) or in some cases it is about a guy and a girl who fall in love with each other and they eventually get married. Or even the ones where the guy and the girl hate each other at first and then they wind up falling madly in love and getting married. Marriage, I take it, was a popular theme in classic films. Even today with crappy Rom-Coms they are all about a girl falling in love with Mr. Right and them getting married in the end. I have a few modern Rom-Coms and the only reasons I have some of them are for the mostly actresses I like that star in them (Jennifer Garner, Katherine Heigl, Kristen Bell to name my favorite three). Nowadays I tend to avoid Rom-Coms unless an actress I like is in it even then the plot has to look somewhat decent which rarely they are.
            Anyway, one of several Classic Hollywood martial farces I watched has been And So They Were Married from 1936 starring Melvyn Douglas and Mary Astor. The story starts off pretty good and then takes a slight dive near the end.
            Edith Farmham (Astor) takes her young daughter Brenda to a new ski resort for Christmas. Stephen Blake (Douglas)  goes to same resort as Edith. He has a young son named Tommy who will meet him there when he is done with school. On the road to the resort Stephen cuts Edith off then at a stop sign she bumps his car and cuts him off. They arrive at the hotel at the same time and everyone thinks they are married. The hotel clerk tells Edith and Stephen that there was an avalanche that has stopped the rest of the travelers from arriving on time. They are the only ones at dinner and they start throwing confetti at each other.
            The following day, Edith and Stephen go out together because she cannot take the hostess and he cannot take the ski instructor. They talk about their children and how they need companions of the opposite sex since they are both widowed. They both have a good time alone talking and walking around in the snow.
            Tommy arrives at the resort while Stephen is out. While out sledding he meets Brenda and is not very nice to her. Edith and Stephen think their kids will be sweet to each other if they were to meet. The next thing they see is Tommy and Brenda beating the life out of each other in the lobby. They casually walk past the fighting children acting as if they are someone else’s kids. Sometime later Brenda and Tommy overhear the hostess and the instructor talking about how they think Stephen and Edith might possibly get married. Their parents ingrained a dislike of the opposite sex into their minds. They try to make their parents not like each other but everything they do winds up backfiring. A spoiled rich kid named Horace keeps taking the blame for all their schemes to get attention from his mother.
            Edith does not think it is a good idea she and Stephen get married because their kids do not like each other but he says they have to think of themselves and live their lives. At a party Stephen gets drunk and Edith does not like that. The kids are happy with this.
            The next day Edith is upset and so is Stephen too because they could not get married. When they each arrive home at their respective houses Edith and Stephen are still upset. Brenda and Tommy try to get their parents back together. They want to run away because there are not paying attention to them. When they do so Brenda and Tommy realize they have made a big mistake. They hide out together as if they are missing so Edith and Stephen will see each other again.
            Then a whole silly thing happens and Stephen and Edith are thrown in jail but of course they are released and the kids admit they like each other.
            Melvyn Douglas and Mary Astor were good together. It was nice to see Douglas with an actress that did not outshine him in popularity. By this I mean he had been paired with some of the most popular actresses at MGM such as Norma Shearer and Greta Garbo who were insanely popular and practically left him in the dark. Mary Astor was still a popular actress but not as she had been in the early thirties. They seemed to have had good chemistry but I think that came down to Douglas because he could have had chemistry with a pole. I do not think this film did either one of them justice as actors and as a pairing. I wish they had been paired in another, better film than this.

            And So They Were Married was cute and it starts off well. When the kids meet and begin messing around with their parents’ relationship the film takes a slight dive and does not recover. I could have dealt with a martial comedy where the man and woman do not at first really care for the opposite sex but the kids just messed it up. And So They Were Married is available to view on Youtube and I recommend seeing it for Mary Astor and Melvyn Douglas.