I Do and I Don't: A History of Marriage in the Movies

Knopf. 2013. 384p. photogs. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780307269164. $30. FILM
Director Frank Capra once said, "Embrace happy marriage in real life, but keep away from it onscreen." Here Basinger (film studies, Wesleyan Univ.; The Star Machine) asks: What is a marriage movie, and how has its depiction evolved from silent cinema to the 21st century? She defines marriage movies as primarily focused on the couple's relationship, particularly the reasons why one marries, what makes a good partnership, and couples who do or don't work together. While they have over the years portrayed infidelity, addiction, even murder, studios have had to adjust to society's changing mores, production code censorship, and audience appetite for "star pairings." Basinger covers such diverse topics as screwball comedies, same-sex marriage, marriage on television, and nightmare visions of marital discord, such as in The War of the Roses. Some of the most perceptive treatments of marriage recently have come from abroad, notably the Oscar-winning 2011 Iranian film A Separation.
VERDICT Basinger's thorough and lively popular history covers classics like Citizen Kane and Dodsworth while unearthing obscure and unjustly neglected films. This book is an excellent "viewer's advisory" to an often overlooked subject. Recommended.
Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing