Judy Holliday and Aldo Ray in The Marrying Kind (1952)


director: George Cukor; screenwriters: Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin; cinematographer:Joseph Walker; editor: Charles Nelson; music: Hugo Friedhofer; cast: Judy Holliday (‘Florrie’ Keefer), Aldo Ray (‘Chet’ Keefer), Madge Kennedy (Judge Anne B. Carroll), Sheila Bond (Joan Shipley), John Alexander (Howard Shipley), Peggy Cass (Emily Bundy), Mickey Shaughnessy (Pat Bundy); Runtime: 92; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Bert Granet; Columbia; 1952)
“It never captured my imagination.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A smart New York tragi-comedy cleverly written by the husband and wife team of Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin and capably helmed by George Cukor (“Pat and Mike”/”Adam’s Rib”/”Born Yesterday”), but something about it feels off kilter. The stars provide sensitive performances, but the comedy never materialized and I had reservations about the bittersweet dramatics.

It has a young lower middle-class couple, representing the average New Yorkers, in divorce court. The kind-hearted judge (Madge Kennedy, former silent-screen star) has them come into her chambers to hear about their marriage woes and try to work out a reconciliation. The insecure gravel-voiced husband is Chet Keefer (Aldo Ray, his first major film role), a post office worker, and his ditzy blonde wife Florence (Judy Holliday) is an ex-secretary. They begin by telling the judge how they met in Central Park, and then each goes on to relate how their marriage turned out to be a laundry list of mistakes–with each unable to overcome life’s disappointments. By the end, Chet promises to try and change his delusions of grandeur and Florence agrees also to try and be a more agreeable wife. The Keefers happily leave the office arm in arm. The entire film is a series of flashbacks.

It seems to work out rather well, if you are into happy endings. Unfortunately, it never captured my imagination or drew me into the couple’s plight. If this is supposed to be a realistic depiction of the ups and downs of married life, I couldn’t help feeling it was somewhat artificial–bogged down by too much sentimentality, too many contrivances and too much idle chatter.