I applaud any film that dares to push at the boundaries that envelop it, be those boundaries artistic, traditional or cultural. That is precisely what is so much fun about many Criterion Collection titles. They have a complete disregard for the filmmaking conventions and social morays of their time, and instead the director creates exactly what he wants, convention be damned.
Marilyn Monroe movies, however, have never really fit into that category. In fact, she was notoriously typecast as the sexy dumb blon…e throughout her career. Though the majority of her films are undeniably entertaining, they aren’t exactly cutting-edge cinema. We’re Not Married, however, comes very close.
While not exactly a Marilyn Monroe picture in the strictest sense, she is in the film in a supporting capacity. The film is based on the premise that a misinformed Justice of the Peace started performing marriages a week before he was granted the right to do so by the state. Years later, the error is discovered, and the JP begins the process of sending letters out to each couple affected by his ignorance. As each couple receives their letter in the mail, we are introduced to their marriage, getting a glimpse of what remains of their love for each other after years of marriage.
The film works somewhat like a dark comedy. The majority of romantic films of this era concentrated on the discovery of new love, and ended in marriage. This one, however, starts with unhappily married couples, and gives each of them the opportunity to get out of the situation, and start their lives anew. Some couples are thrilled, some are confused, and some are devastated.
We’re Not Married is filled with continuity mistakes, and it tends to drag during a few segments, but overall, it is a charming and truly entertaining film. There are many jokes here that are still relevant today, such as a hilarious segment where a radio show crams as many advertisements as they possibly can into the first few minutes of their show. Granted, the film is unfairly billed as a Marilyn Monroe feature, but it is a very fun peice, nonetheless.
There is nothing especially noteworthy about this soundtrack, but it’s not particularly bad, either. Sometimes, when films are this old, their soundtracks should be judged more on how bad they are not, than on how good they are. So many films of this era were not properly cared for, and as a result, their audio tracks are filled with pops, hiss and general nastiness. That is not the case here, however. Except for a few very minor instances of dropped dialog, the film sounds as good as it did when it was new. Actually, it probably sounds better. Sure, there is no surround sound, no low-end, and no spatial imaging. That’s fine with me, though. It wasn’t there in the first place. If it were added now, it would change the film from its original presentation. I am glad to see that Fox decided to keep this one historically accurate.
This is one title that has obviously spent some time in the re-mastering department. For a film released in 1952, the picture quality is simply stunning. Presented in the original full frame black and white format, the picture has deep black levels and very nice lighting, given the challenges presented by black and white film stock. The master is virtually free from scratches, pops, dust, or any of the other blemishes that seem to find their way onto so many of these older films. The picture is sharp and clear, and really looks fantastic. This is a great black and white title.
I have never rated special features as high as I have for this release, when all that was included were some trailers. This is a special case, however. There aren’t just three trailers here… or five… or seven. This disc includes no fewer than 15 trailers! Sixteen, if you include the advertisement for the Marilyn Monroe Diamond Collection, Volume One. Trailers for every Diamond Collection film are on this disc, including our feature presentation. I love to watch trailers from films of this era, as they are not typically just clips from the film, but an original production created to promote the film. Sure, some are just clips, but sometimes, the clips are produced especially for the trailer. Other times, they include behind-the-scenes footage or interviews with the stars. Any disc with this many trailers deserves a little something extra on their Upcoming Discs rating.
While not really a Marilyn Monroe film, this is still a very entertaining release, complete with some dark humor and genre-stretching content. This is one of those pictures that probably would have dropped into relative obscurity, were it not for the presence of Monroe on the bill. Luck for us, she is here, and the film has found new life on DVD. If you enjoyed the Cohen brothers’Intolerable Cruelty, this may be just the film for you.
Special Features List
- Theatrical Trailers