We’re Not Married (1952)
B & W, Comedy, 86 minutes
Released by 20th Century Fox
Directed by Edmund Golding
Produced by Nunnally Johnson
Screenplay by Gina Kaus and Jay Dratler, with Nunnally Johnson
Fred Allen . . . . . . . . . Steve Gladwyn
Ginger Rogers . . . . . . . Ramona Gladwyn
Victor Moore . . . . . . . . Justice of the Peace Bush
David Wayne . . . . . . . . Jeff Norris
Marilyn Monroe . . . . . . . Annabel Norris
Paul Douglas . . . . . . . . Hector Woodruff
Eve Arden . . . . . . . . . Katie Woodruff
Louis Calhern . . . . . . . Freddie Melrose
Zsa Zsa Gabor . . . . . . . Eve Melrose
Eddie Bracken. . . . . . . . Willie Fisher
Mitzi Gaynor . . . . . . . . Patsy Fisher
Jane Darwell . . . . . . . . Mrs. Bush
Minor spoilers for both the married and the single!
Suppose, for just a moment, you’ve been happily married for some time now, about two and a half years. One fine evening, just before dinner, your spouse hands you the day’s mail. Amongst the missives, there’s an official-looking letter from the state government, which you rip open and start to read.
Then your jaw hits the ground. The letter informs you that, due to an unfortunate clerical error, you and your spouse haven’t actually ever been married. It seems that the official who married you had no authority to do so.
What would you do? Show the letter to your spouse and start making wedding plans ... again? Keep your mouth shut and start making other plans? That’s the situation that five couples face in this merry little movie, each in their own episode. Remember, it’s 1952, and "living in sin" had more ominous implications than it does now.
We’re Not Married starts off with some scenes that explain how this mix-up got started. It quickly moves on to the first couple affected, Steve and Ramona Gladwyn (Fred Allen and Ginger Rogers). They’re "The Glad Gladwyns" of radio fame, and their early-morning 'breakfast chat' show is among the highest-rated in the country. So much so, in fact, that when their little problem is discovered, the show's producer is adamant that they’ve got to get remarried, quietly, as soon as possible. But there’s one other problem. Unbeknownst to their loyal listeners, the Glad Gladwyns positively loathe each other. The sequence in which they forge ahead with their radio show, sounding ever so pleasant with each other, is wickedly funny and worth the price of the movie.
Then there’s Hector and Katie Woodruff (Paul Douglas and Eve Arden), a typical middle-class American couple. We quickly learn that they’ve settled down to that mutual tolerance that sometimes passes for a marriage. They’re nice enough to each other, but whatever spark was there is obviously gone. When Hector receives the news of his non-existent marriage, a world of possibilities opens before him, all featuring lots of pretty girls.
The action moves to Mississippi, and the home of Jeff and Annabel Norris (David Wayne and Marilyn Monroe). Mrs. Norris is a beautiful, vivacious woman with a child and a chance to win the Mrs. Mississippi contest, appearing in pageants across the state. Her husband, meanwhile, gets to stay home, cook, and tend to the baby. Things may change just a bit when he receives the letter.
It’s the world of business next as we meet Freddie Melrose (Louis Calhern), a successful industrialist and a nice man. He’s got what would now be called a trophy wife, played deliciously by Zsa Zsa Gabor. Freddie’s heading off to another city on a business trip, and his loving wife agrees to meet him there for some fun. But exactly who’ll be having the fun?
Finally, we meet serviceman Willie Fisher (Eddie Bracken) and his wife, Patsy (Mitzi Gaynor). They’re a young couple, newly married, and planning to start a family as soon as Willie returns from his tour of duty. Just before he ships out, Willie receives the letter informing him of the mixup. Things quickly turn frantic when Willie goes AWOL, trying to get a license and a real minister to remarry Patsy before he ships out. Will he be able to evade the military policemen looking for him in time?
We’re Not Married is a fun little piece of entertainment that I've enjoyed many times. The writing isn’t stellar, but the performances are rarely off, and it’s a pleasant way to spend just under an hour and a half. Marilyn Monroe’s presence has saved the movie from becoming one of those "movies that got away", since it’s usually included in anthologies of her work.
The Internet Movie Database
.<http://www.imdb.com>. (August 2004).
repeated viewing of the film