We’re Not Married! (1952)

Directed by Edmund Goulding
Cinematography Leo Tover

Plot

When elderly Mr. Bush (Victor Moore) is appointed justice of the peace, he starts marrying couples on Christmas Eve. However, his appointment isn’t valid until the first of January. Two years later, this issue becomes known when one of the six couples he married files divorce. To avoid a bigger scandal, the remaining five couples are informed that they are not really married. The film then shows how the couples react to the news:

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  • Couple #1: is Steve Gladwyn (Fred Allen) and Ramona (Ginger Rogers), a husband-and-wife radio team whose huggy-kissy behavior on the air conceals the fact that they’d dearly love to cut each other’s throats.
  • Couple #2: consists of stay at home father Jeff Norris (David Wayne) and his beauty contest spouse Annabel (Marilyn Monroe), who’s just won the “Mrs. Mississippi” pageant.
  • Couple #3: is Hector Woodruff (Paul Douglas) and Katie (Eve Arden), who ran out of things to say to each other long ago.
  • Couple #4: is the kind millionaire Freddie Melrose (Louis Calhern) and his gold-digging young bride Eve (Zsa Zsa Gabor), who intends to divorce him and make off with his millions.
  • Couple #5: is young GI Willie Fisher (Eddie Bracken), about to be shipped out the Korean War and his pregnant wife Patsy (Mitzi Gaynor).

In the end, all but Couple #4 get remarried.

A sixth segment, starring Hope Emerson and Walter Brennan as an Ozark backwoods unmarried couple, was deleted before the film’s release.

MBDWENO FE024

WE’RE NOT MARRIED!, from left, Ginger Rogers, Victor Moore, 1952, TM & Copyright ©20th Century Fox Film Corp

We’re Not Married-Better to Elope After this One **1/2

6/10
Author: edwagreen from United States
28 July 2007

Victor Moore, as a justice of the peace, who didn’t realize that his authority to marry people didn’t start until January 1. Therefore, all people he had previously married prior to this date were determined not to be married legally and were notified accordingly.

Here is where the fun begins. As would be the case in comedies, many of the couples don’t have the best of marriages and some might use this as an excuse to exit from the scene.

The most hilarious of the group is the marriage between Zsa Zsa Gabor and Louis Calhern. She tries to get him involved with a hooker so that she can divorce him and under California law qualify for millions due to that state’s laws. Does he turn the tables on her when it’s determined that they’re not married!

Marilyn Monroe has a bring fling as a beauty contestant in a Mrs. contest. When she wins, she is naturally ineligible as she and David Wayne aren’t legally wed. Wayne uses this to his advantage to get Marilyn to stay home and take care of their youngster instead.

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Thanks to the snafu, Eddie Bracken has married Mitzi Gaynor who finds herself pregnant as Bracken receives the news of their illegal marriage while being shipped off in the army. How the 2 manage to wed to provide the legitimacy cover for the baby is quite amusing.

Paul Douglas dreams of what the single life could be when he finds out that he is not wed to Eve Arden. Surprisingly, Arden is much restrained here. Amazing that her comic gifts were not utilized.

Fred Allen is awfully good along with his talk-show host wife Ginger Rogers, who battle off-air while fooling the public on their morning radio show. Isn’t this a take-off of Dorothy Kilgallen and her husband Dick Kalmar?

A pleasant film. Before you wed, view the credentials of the person marrying you!

Too gloomy, but two of the five stories hit the mark

Author: Richard Burin from advicetothelovelorn.blogspot.com
11 June 2010
*** This review may contain spoilers ***

We’re Not Married (Edmund Goulding, 1952) is a series of star-studded short stories that’s at its best when it’s being sweet – not cynical. While its structure recalls If I Had a Million, which gave each of its main characters $1m to spank on the ventures of their choice, the story is reminiscent of Hitchcock’s impressively tedious screwball comedy, Mr and Mrs Smith. Victor Moore sets the plot in motion as an over-eager, though slow-speaking, justice of the peace who starts marrying people before his licence permits. When the error is uncovered a couple of years later, five marriages are struck out, with the explanatory letters arriving at some critical juncture, giving the couples the chance to stick or twist.

As with perhaps my favourite anthology, Night on Earth, we start with the weakest story. The ‘Glad Gladwyns’, radio DJs Fred Allen and Ginger Rogers, are luvvy-duvvy on the air, bicker in the office and don’t speak at home. Their story is mostly predictable and mostly miserable, stuffed with those leaden barbs that cinema enjoyed aiming at its rival medium during this period (see also: A Letter to Three Wives, It’s Always Fair Weather) – including a string of audio adverts that seem to go on forever. Hmm. Anyway, onwards and upwards… The second chapter compensates by being pretty darn great: if you can imagine a good version of Lady Godiva Rides Again, made in America and lasting about 10 minutes – then it’s like that. Marilyn Monroe is the reigning Mrs Mississippi, gunning for the regional beauty queen crown until she gets that letter, rendering her ineligible. David Wayne is in good form as her stay-at-home husband, changing nappies and avoiding sarky remarks from the postman until his trump card arrives. There are a couple of fantastic jokes in this one, which has a modern sense of humour along with its very ’50s trappings, and buzzes with an energy most of the other segments don’t possess.

Paul Douglas and Eve Arden are the next couple: again we’re on slightly bleak ground, with the husband’s motive for staying put leaving a sour taste – quite aside from not being that funny. Better, if no less cheery, is part four, in which multi-millionaire Louis Calhern is given the run-around by canny ‘wife’ Zsa Zsa Gabor, only to find a most unexpected escape route. The scene in which Calhern is framed by his partner’s cohorts is funny, but we’re ultimately asked to root for a bland if trusting financial weasel who’s put a third of his money in secret accounts. Admittedly his wife is even more objectionable than he is. Happily, the movie saves its best for last, with a comic and moving segment reminiscent of star Eddie Bracken’s collaborations with Preston Sturges – if lacking the touch of genius associated with that director. Bracken plays a soldier who’s about to sail for overseas when he finds out that the baby he’s expecting is going to be born out of wedlock. So he calls for his girl to join him and goes AWOL, dodging the Military Police as he tries to get hitched. It’s madcap, in an agreeable way, with Bracken ideally cast as the eternally unlucky, put-upon little guy trying to do the right thing. There’s also a small part for Lee Marvin, playing Bracken’s army buddy. Finally, we get a brief coda giving a delayed wrap-up to the Rogers-Allen sequence that possesses more charm than the whole of the earlier chapter, and providing a fitting finale for Douglas and Arden. It’s not a great film, but two of the five segments work really well and there’s enough star power for the others to just about skirt by.

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