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Marriage At The Movies

Why marriage doesn’t work for Hollywood.  The troubled history of going the distance on the silver screen.

Myrna Loy and William Powell of "The Thin Man" film series. (Wikimedia Commons)

Myrna Loy and William Powell of “The Thin Man” film series. (Wikimedia Commons)

We go to the movies, or watch them at home, to escape.  For romance.  Adventure.  Something wild.  Something different.  So maybe it’s obvious why marriage has not been Hollywood’s favorite theme.

After all, marriage is about constancy and, in some ways, the familiar.  Hollywood loves the chase, the seduction.  Marriage is the capture.  And yet, marriage is a big part of a lot of lives.

So what to do?  Make them assassins trying to kill one another?  Mr. and Mrs. Smith?

This hour, On Point:  Hollywood’s long and difficult wrestling match with marriage.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guest

Jeanine Basinger, chair of film studies at Wesleyan University. Author of “I Do and I Don’t: A History of Marriage in the Movies.”

From Tom’s Reading List

Salon Marriage is both mundane and notoriously mysterious. It is also a subject that has perplexed Hollywood from the very beginning, according to Jeanine Basinger, a film historian and author of the lively new book “I Do and I Don’t: A History of Marriage in the Movies.”

The Boston Globe “As a bonus prize inside her Cracker Jack box of a book, Basinger also compares marriage movies and 1950s TV sitcoms. Despite happy endings, she reminds us, monsters lurked close to the surface of movies; beneath sitcoms, where marriage was de-sexed and familial problems easily solved, ‘lurked the sponsors.’”

Denver Post “What could be more weighty than the slow encroachment of mortality at the end of a long, well-lived life? Especially for a couple that seem to have gotten the rhythms of their romantic partnership down to a delicate, authentic minuet of casual touches, matter-of-fact conversations and binding memories?”

Excerpt From “I Do And I Don’t”

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