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Film / The Marrying Kind

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You know, counselor, there's an old saying, there are three sides to every story: yours, his, and the truth.

A Romantic Comedy with a bit of tragedy, directed by George Cukor, starring Judy Holliday and Aldo Ray.

A divorce is taking place between mail clerk Chet (Ray) and Florence Keefer (Holliday). Procedings are scheduled for the next day when Judge Anne Carroll (Madge Kennedy) decides to sit down with the couple to understand why they’re filing for divorce.

Both parties narrative their married life, and come up with different reasons why their marriage no longer works.

After the success of Born Yesterday, Holliday’s writing team, Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin, wrote The Marrying Kind (1952) for her with the approval of studio head, Harry Cohn.

Tropes found in The Marrying Kind:

  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: Chet drinks one too many cocktails at a party, and dances the rhumba with a slinky, attractive woman, and much to Florence’s astonishment, kisses her at the end of their dance.
  • Anxiety Dreams: A fun work-related one: Chet dreams that ball bearings that he had to clean up come spilling out of nowhere, making the President of the United States (who was visiting with the Postmaster General) slip and hurt himself. Florence executes him, because the President demanded it.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: The last scene.
  • Awful Wedded Life: Deconstructed. They’re both unhappy with their marriage, and the death of Johnny didn’t help matters. Reconstruction: They decide to stay together, and work things out.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: For years, Chet can’t get over Florence’s boss: he gave her a radio as a wedding gift, and gave her an Unexpected Inheritance.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: What starts as a sort of Romantic Comedy immediately becomes more melodramatic with the reveal of Johnny’s death.
  • Death Wail: Florence after telling the story of how her son, Johnny died.
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: Hinted at by Florence in her "thinking" speech:
    Because everybody gets in a rut. Take me. A rut! But down there in Atlantic City, I got into a lot of thinking. You know what I mean? I don't mean just stewin' around - I mean thinking. And to tell you the truth, I was surprised by how enjoyable it was! Well, you take most people, including me. They hardly ever get to do any thinking - when do they get the time? Or if you do get the time, there's the movies or the radio or you play a game of cards, but no thinking. Down there it was my first chance in I don't know how long, and I've made up a rule: I'm gonna do at least a half hours of thinking every day, all by myself. Just quietly. (She's asked, "What are you going to think about?") I don't know. Everything.
  • Fourth-Date Marriage: About three dates in, and they're ready for their "I dos".
  • Grief-Induced Split: Florence and Chet have a rough marriage, with the biggest stressor having been the death of their son, Johnny, who drowned in a lake. After all the ups and downs, their families suggest divorce. Ultimately subverted, as after they finish narrating their relationship history to the judge presiding over their divorce, they decide to try again and not blame each other when things go wrong.
  • Gut Punch: Johnny's death is sudden, and immediately changes the tone of the film.
  • Housewife: Since it’s the 1950s, Florence plays this role.
  • Sleeping Single: An American film from 1952 won’t dare to imply that married people sleep in the same bed. The horror!
  • Slobs vs. Snobs: Chet thinks everyone is judging his blue collar background, especially Florence’s rich brother-in-law. Turns out that it’s Chet’s insecurity that makes him feel this way instead of class prejudice.
  • Sleeping with the Boss: Averted. Florence didn’t and is angry at Chet’s insinuations that she did.
  • Married to the Job: Chet works the night shift a lot and Florence complains about this, but he explains that he worked for the benefit of her and the kids.
  • Mood Whiplash: Florence singing, “How I Love the Kisses of Dolores” on her ukulele, enjoying the nice afternoon, and then, a crowd of people running to the lake to find that Johnny has drowned.
  • Romantic Comedy: A little sadder than most.
  • Thinks Like a Romance Novel: Chet complains to Judge Anne that Florence thinks marriage and love is like what she sees in the movies.
  • Trauma Button: Anytime Johnny is mentioned between Chet and Florence. Florence’s co-worker accidentally mentions Johnny— there’s an awkward moment when Florence looks like she’s going to cry.
  • Unable to Support a Wife: After the death of Johnny, Chet falls into a depression, and gets injured. He doesn’t work while he's in a convalescent home, and Florence has to get a job. He of course, didn’t want her to, but there was nothing else they could do.
  • Working-Class Hero: Chet’s friend, the butcher, is happy with his career and doesn’t care what people think about it, unlike Chet who thinks money will give him happiness.