Script: Garson Kanin, Ruth Gordon
Cast: Aldo Ray, Judy Holliday, Madge Kennedy
Setting: 1950s, New York
Rated : 8 Stars
In the domestic courts it is time for Keefer vs Keefer. But the various arguments carry on until it is six o’clock and the presiding judge calls a halt. She wants to reconvene at nine the next morning, but before everyone leaves she decides to have a sit down with the two parties; Florence and Chet.
She asks them how they met, and the flashbacks begin, sometimes with narration from one or the other that disagree with what we’re seeing on screen. But as Judge Carroll has already said, in every argument there is usually at least three versions: my version, your version, and the truth. We’re about to see those versions of the Keefer marriage play out until it is revealed just how they ended up in divorce court.As you may have guessed this is another of my “Marriage and the movies, a history” films. And it isn’t very hard to see that this is utterly a marriage movie. It revolves around the husband and wife, showing their little disagreements over such things as the details of how they met. About how they remember each other’s shortcomings and failures. About their children and their extended families, and how they relate to them.
It is also about the expectations laid upon a husband. Florence gives up her job when she marries. It is the 1950s after all, and Chet is looking for promotion. Or for his lucky ten minutes in which he’ll come up with a genius invention that will change their lives. It never comes, and Chet’s lack of money is something that he is hugely insecure about. Florence’s mother seems to come from money, and her sister married a wealthy businessman. In contrast Chet’s sister is married to a butcher who has no great ambitions beyond what he is.
It isn’t that Florence puts Chet under any pressure, it is simply that Chet feels he should be doing better.
But as we learn in the middle of the film there is another reason for their arguments and their upset. A very valid reason. Show Spoiler ▼
I really enjoyed this film. It is billed as a comedy, and there are some laughs and smiles, but I wouldn’t describe it as such. To me it is a pure drama, all about human relationships and the things left unsaid. It is very hard-hitting in places and well worth a watch. I really liked the two main actors as well, I don’t think I’ve seen them in anything before, but they were big names back in the day, although this was supposedly the film that “introduced” Aldo Ray.