Saturday, March 10, 2007

Tonight's Movie: Marriage is a Private Affair (1944)

After a whirlwind courtship and idyllic Vermont honeymoon with a handsome flyer (John Hodiak), young Theo (Lana Turner) learns to adjust to marriage and motherhood in the WWII-era romantic melodrama MARRIAGE IS A PRIVATE AFFAIR.

Theo has no role models of her own to go by -- her wealthy mother has been married multiple times, and Theo doesn't recognize her own father when he asks to dance with her at her wedding -- it's the first time they've met! Although Theo is a bit immature -- her first thought after giving birth is not of her baby, but of her now-flat stomach -- she initially makes a game effort to be a good wife and mother. Then, with her husband busy with his defense job, she finds herself yearning to be part of the social whirl once more...

The film calls to mind other '40s movies about young brides, such as CLAUDIA and APARTMENT FOR PEGGY. Theo is not always admirable, but it's a glossy, highly watchable movie which delivers solid entertainment value, and Turner looks absolutely stunning, with a fabulous wardrobe by Irene.

James Craig, Keenan Wynn, Hugh Marlowe, and Frances Gifford costar, with Tom Drake in a small supporting role. Theo's mother is played by Natalie Schafer, who would achieve a certain fame as another wealthy woman, playing Mrs. Howell on GILLIGAN'S ISLAND.

Greenbriar Picture Shows has a post with some remarkably beautiful black and white stills from the film. Lana Turner Online has more photos.

It's also fun to read the original New York Times review by Bosley Crowther.

MARRIAGE IS A PRIVATE AFFAIR runs 116 minutes and was filmed in glorious black and white. It was directed by longtime MGM director Robert Z. Leonard. His best-known films include the Garson-0livier PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, A TALE OF TWO CITIES with Ronald Colman, and several Jeanette MacDonald-Nelson Eddy films.

At present this movie isn't available on DVD or video. However, a Warner Bros. representative has stated that there is a Lana Turner DVD set in the works, so we can cross our fingers this might be one of the movies included in the set.

In the meantime, this film is part of the Turner Classic Movies library. The TCM website has the trailer available here.

Postscript: I started writing this Saturday but didn't post till Sunday night. Has been a heavy weekend for me workwise. :)

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