WEEK-END MARRIAGE ( 1932 )

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Throughout the movie there’s different points of view about marriage and I have to admit, they’re harsh, glass half-empty arguments. But coming out of the mouths of babes like Aline MacMahon and Sam Levene it’s a wondrous sight to behold – their words slicing and dicing like shards of glass. Hearing these rock hard, cynically blistering indictments on the state of matrimony and what’s expected of women, took my breath away with an almost equal mixture of humor and horror. MacMahon’s married to Roscoe Karns in this. Maybe she has a point:

WEEKEND ( VI )

“Yeah I could spend the whole day taking care of the darned house for you. Cooking your meals and washing your dishes and thinking how marvelous it’ll be when you get home at night. Couldn’t never go anywhere because we couldn’t afford it. You’d know just where I was and just what I was doing all the time. We’d see so much of one another we couldn’t possibly like each other. It’d be indecent; like not wearing any clothes. Whaddya think Jim said the other day? ‘For an experiment let’s have a baby.’ And get a life sentence?! Huh! Not for me. At least not just now.”

WEEKEND ( VII ) WEEKEND ( V )

Whew! Now personally, whatever Aline MacMahon wants to say is fine with me because before Agnes Moorhead, MacMahon was one of the queens of the 30’s in that kind of supporting actress character part. ( I’m not alone in my admiration for MacMahon. My friend Karin says:

                    “Aline MacMahon is great. So natural. Strong, but sweet.
                    Beautiful, but not pretty. Smart, but not snooty. I believe
                    her, too. I have seen Heat Lightning, of course, and it was
                    great seeing her get the spotlight for once. She is a great
                    perk in any movie she’s in. )

Ha! And MacMahon’s giving advice to the love-lorn in this. The male point of view of love and marriage is not much better. Sam Levene fairly pimps his sister out in marriage to a “greasy bootlegger” and you know what THAT means. ( Hey… them’s THEIR words, not mine. P.C. Stands for Pre-Code not Politically Correct. )

WEEKEND ( XXXVIII )

“You don’t want to what?!! I tell you, you don’t kids, you don’t want housework. Naaaah, you don’t want anything that’s good for you. You’re just a rotten lazy little fool. But I’ll make somethin’ else of you. You see, I’ll make something out of you if it kills you!”

And he lets Loretta have what for, but good:

WEEKEND ( XXXX )

“And you too! You’re no better than she is. If I had my way, I’d have the whole rotten bunch of you in a sweatshop. I’d make you work so hard you’ll be crying for a kitchen and a few babies to take care of just for a vacation!”

<< GULP! >>

Audiences watching this movie in 1932 were between a rock and a hard place. And again, I admit both are cock-eyed stances to take. There IS a middle ground, but I just love the bluster of both scenes.

Foster can’t take it. And I totally get that. He feels bad, his ego’s battered, his pride’s bruised; he feels ashamed he can’t take care of his wife. He’s all too human. So what does he do? He acts out…with a streetwalker. Again, I was in shock to see Young not only bail him out, but bail her ( Vivienne Osborne ) out as well. (( ???! ))  And if I may confide in you who are reading this, ( thank you! )  I’m not sure what’s shocking me isn’t how young and doe-eyed virginal and beautiful Loretta Young is in the 30’s, and being put in such positions. As her character’s career goes through the roof, waiting in the wings is that most typical movie convention, the back – up man.

You know that guy. The ‘Ralph Bellamy’-type; the one who’s waiting in wings in case the boyfriend/husband strays. It’s played by tall handsome 30’s stalwart: GEORGE BRENT.

WEEKEND ( XXI )

Looks like he’s the office Romeo who is after Loretta. But really, he’s not played like a bad chap. ( For THAT you need Ricardo Cortez or Warren William. ) Brent’s attracted to her and she gets more comfortable with him as business pulls her away from home. But though they get along swimmingly, a question tickles the back of my mind: If Brent were to really get serious about Loretta, would he ask her to leave her job so she could be his full-time wife?

As a person of color, my love for classic films sometimes gives me a tough way to go when I see certain portrayals. I’m pretty used to that by now, reconciling and understanding that things were really from another Time. But this movie hit a DIFFERENT nerve for me: AS A WOMAN. (Egads, I didn’t see THAT coming. I thought I was just getting more 1930’s Loretta Young under my belt). If you’ve seen the movie before, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t and don’t mind a spoiler,  check out this clip below of what happens when Young goes back home when she learns her husband is sick. This will either have you cheering “Amen!” or set your hair on fire.

 

Wait…what did he say?! My jaw dropped, I gasped. I literally held my hand over my own mouth. ( That’s right. My name is CineMaven…and I am a Drama Queen. ) If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll notice the shocking underlying message they slipped in there right after that scene. If a streetwalker wears an apron and takes care of home, she’s not made out to be such a bad egg. She ( Vivienne Osborne ) is quite sympathetic in this scene. Actually, I couldn’t believe they made her sympathetic. But I think the film had bigger fish to fry with a bigger message.

 WEEKEND ( II )

“Men are selfish. What do they care how they mess up our lives. Just let someone interfere with them; their plans or their careers.”

Can a woman have it all? “Week-End Marriage” doesn’t give a definitive answer to my original hypothesis, though it does seem to lean towards “No she can’t.”  All I’m posing is that women should have choice. And I must be conscientious and aware NOT  to be upset with whatever choice a woman chooses to choose even if it’s not the choice I want her to choose for herself. Ladies look, you CAN have it all if you want. You can work outside and/or only inside the home. And depending on your husband…inside may be twice as hard.

WEEKEND ( IX ) WEEKEND ( VIII )WEEKEND ( XIV )WEEKEND ( XX ) WEEKEND ( XXX ) WEEKEND ( XXXXI )

This movie was made in 1932. My father was a five year old little boy growing up in this Society where men’s and women’s roles were pretty well-defined. And woe to the women who wanted to break out of this and carve a different way. Getting this through my head should help me understand why my Dad is the way he is. And perhaps why I, as the generation after his, am the way I am.

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11 thoughts on “WEEK-END MARRIAGE ( 1932 )

  1. You know what’s scary? That the doctor (Grant Mitchell) may be right! Men who have to go to 9-to-5 jobs every day are anything but free. Some don’t seem to mind their lack of freedom. Others find it absolute torture. But if you don’t subject yourself to wage slavery, you can’t afford to have a family. Young men are slowly finding this out and beginning to stay away from marriage, careers, and fatherhood in increasing numbers. Those things come with low reward and high penalty.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Grant Mitchell freaked me out. I couldn’t believe the turn of events between Young and the prostitute. ( I didn’t see ANY of that coming. ) But I loved that the script didn’t judge her harshly. I did loathe how the script treated Young. That’ll learn ya. You want to be independent…and on your own…and NOT under your husband’s thumb? Well here’re the consequences – you won’t be considered his legal guardian by marriage. Wage slavery? Hopefully folks can try to get a job they actually like ( a rarity…I know ). I don’t know if young men are finding out what you say: ( “…beginning to stay away from marriage, careers, and fatherhood in increasing numbers.” ) But it’d be swell if they didn’t father so many children they’re not prepared to take care of.

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  2. Plus ca change, plus c’est la mame chose, Theresa. This issue is still alive today in many levels of our society. Still, there are young couples who appear to be able to manage an “imbalance” of salaries. This post admirable shows how a run-of-the-mill movie can reflect “real life” in a way that the more ambitious films sometimes miss. There’s not really much about cinema in this post, but what after all is more important, Love, Marriage, and Family, or Movies? We may seek Entertainment or Esthetic Pleasure on the screen or in film criticism, but the greatest value comes when something is said about Human Relations. Thanks, Theresa.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bien sur, mon ami. And again, sometimes NOT having a big budget allows you to be creative in the film you want to make and what you’re trying to say. Yes, a story is important…but what the story is SAYING is even more important.

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  3. I’m incapable of being objective about Aline MacMahon – she’s a favorite and makes all of her movies a Must-See for me, just by being in it. My relatively late discovery of her (HEAT LIGHTING on TCM then her version of KIND LADY vs Basil Rathbone) was followed a year or so later with her smaller role in Montgomery Cliff’s THE SEARCH where she fills the screen with a couple of decades of aging, but is soooo magnificent in that. And even more so because OF her aging. She enters that film as a wider, “old battle-ax” persona and ends up being the shining knight of the calvary charge to save everyone.

    Thanks for a great write-up on this film.

    The gasping moments were so frequent here – the one-bed scene, Aline’s speeches, the economic developments, the prostitute AND debating points that every household faces at one point or another – as you said, “Yay, Pre-Code!”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi there Ollie! Another MacMahon devotee. I love it. I’ve heard she was soooo good in “The Search” but it’s a film I’ve not seen…yet! I like that you say: “…because OF her aging.” This “Weekend Marriage” really shocked me to my core. Ha! You’d think I’d know better by now, right? I’m currently exploring more films from the thirties, and this Loretta Young picture dropped my jaw. I don’t know how ANY woman back then could have fought the social view that women really should stay home and not financially contribute to her family. If a woman wanted to stay home, swell. But what if she WANTED to work? Well… I ask you, were men’s egos really soooooo weak and fragile? I can’t think of any other way to look at it. I’m checking out Loretta Young right now in “She Had to Say Yes.” Whew! She’s having an awful time in it. The life of a working girl was rough and challenging. And THAT’S not even dealing with the actual work. It was dealing with men.

      ( If you get a chance, see Aline battle Anne Baxter in “Guest in the House” —-> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_VZb5vcacPQ ).

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  4. Pingback: HAVING IT ALL?? | CineMaven's: ESSAYS from the COUCH

  5. Pingback: Week-End Marriage (1932) Review, with Loretta Young and Aline MacMahon – Pre-Code.Com

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