Mawwiage! Mawwiage is what bwings us togethew this month! August seems to be the Wedding Month. Last weekend I got on a plane to go to my cousin’s wedding, and met 3 other people going to weddings, while a friend texted me from yet another wedding. Since love is in the air, the obvious thing to do would be to write a 5 Best Wedding Movies list. But that list would basically write itself, and we at WRM do not shirk (except when spending the weekend celebrating in Minnesota). So instead, in honor of my cousin John and his wife Kristy, here are 5 Movie Marriages And What They Can Teach Newlyweds.
1) Paul & Corrie Bratter “Barefoot In The Park”: It’s important for a new marriage to have perspective. And an elevator. When Corrie (Jane Fonda) and Brad (Robert Redford) tie the knot and move into their tiny New York apartment, they’re brimming with excitement for the future. However, can their budding marriage survive her mother, their Don Juan neighbor, a hole in the ceiling and 5 flights of stairs? Neil Simon doles out great relationship advice despite the fact that this is based on the first of 5 marriages. Plus watching it will make you feel better about your apartment, because no matter how small it is, at least it doesn’t snow in your living room.
2) Nick & Nora Charles “The Thin Man” Series: A good marriage needs shared activities. So many parts of this relationship read as dysfunctional: Nick (William Powell) drinks too much. He only married Nora (Myrna Loy) for her money. At one point he socks her. They joke constantly about extra-marital affairs. It sounds like the makings of an Oscar-bait drama (or like one of the other films on this list), but instead it’s a delightful comedy about a witty, mystery-solving duo. She serves the drinks, he does the dangerous stuff, and together they have repartee like, “He shot you twice in the tabloids.” “That’s a lie, he didn’t get anywhere near my tabloids.” Charming!
3) Pinky & Pinky “Adam’s Rib”: Maybe those shared activities shouldn’t include attempted murder trials. Another rich and witty couple, Adam (Spencer Tracy) and Amanda (Katherine Hepburn) Bonner are successful lawyers with fantastic chemistry and a perfect marriage, complete with those gross nicknames you hate hearing from other couples but immediately adopt once you’re in a relationship. Then some broad tries to kill her husband, Adam and Amanda end up on opposite sides of the case, and it all goes downhill. This movie would definitely make the list of Best Courtroom Movies, Best Early Feminist Movies, and Best Onscreen Chemistry, but the dressing scene also makes my personal list of Movie Relationship Moments I Will Try To Recreate. Future spouse(s?), you have been warned.
4) Martha & George “Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf”: Sometimes it’s OK to get a divorce. I think this movie should more or less speak for itself. Both the fictional Martha and George and the real Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton make for a spectacle of dysfunction. It would be easy to read into George and Martha’s childless, loveless marriage a parallel to the two marriages of Liz & Dick, but that would be unfair. (Side story: While discussing Bette Davis movies one night, my friend Adam asked me in his best Bette impression, “‘What a dump!’ What’s that from?” A few hours later, we popped in “Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf” for the first time, and watched Elizabeth Taylor march into her house before declaring, “‘What a dump!’ What’s that from?” Adam and I turned to each other with shock, before we burst into the giggles. My comment: “We are never getting married.”)
5) Norman & Ethel Thayer “On Golden Pond”: After you’ve weathered your hardships, celebrated your successes, and emerged an old and happy couple, enjoy your golden years. And enjoy the migration of the loons.
On a final note, I would like to say that while researching this list I discovered that I could write an entire Marriage Movie List just on Katherine Hepburn (one of my favorite actresses). So here are three other movies you should check out if you still have marriage (and Kate) on the mind: “The Philadelphia Story,” “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner,” and (personal favorite) “The Lion In Winter.”