Saturday, September 04, 2010

Tonight's Movie: Married and in Love (1940)

MARRIED AND IN LOVE is a brisk 59-minute RKO programmer about two shaky marriages.

Helen (Barbara Read) is the devoted wife of Dr. Leslie Yates (Alan Marshal), who has hit it big with a best-selling book after years of financial struggles. Leslie runs into his college sweetheart Doris (Helen Vinson), who is married to Paul (Patric Knowles). Old memories are rekindled, and Leslie and Doris consider the possibility of leaving their spouses and renewing their love affair, despite the hurt it would inflict on Helen and Paul.

This flashback-filled examination of two marriages struck me as rather unusual subject matter for a B movie of this era. It's an interesting film, although the short length prevents exploring the characters in depth. Helen and Paul are each unquestioningly loyal, even confronted with possible betrayal by the person they love most; it would have been interesting to understand more about their charaters and motivations.

It's also a bit hard to understand why Leslie would think twice when comparing sweet, supportive Helen with Doris, who is unreliable and not particularly attractive inside or out. Leslie, in fact, is a bit wishy-washy -- unwilling to commit to Doris right out of college, yet expecting that she would wait for him while he studied in Europe. It's disappointing that Leslie is so easily manipulated by Doris, but if he weren't, there wouldn't be a movie!

The small cast is rounded out by Hattie Noel as the Yates' maid and Frank Faylen and Carol Hughes as a couple Paul talks to in a bar.

Director John Farrow also made the previous year's SORORITY HOUSE (1939), in which Barbara Read gave a more vivacious performance as an independent-minded college girl.

MARRIED AND IN LOVE is not on DVD or video, but it can be seen on Turner Classic Movies. A clip from the film is available online at TCM.

RKO made many good B movies in the '30s and '40s -- Farrow's FIVE CAME BACK (1939) is another example -- and while MARRIED AND IN LOVE isn't great cinema, it's a well-crafted and diverting hour.


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