“Thanks to her impeccable research and thoroughly entertaining prose, Basinger provides a take on matrimony that is never less than fascinating. Nimbly moving through history, she illustrates the lengths to which Hollywood has gone in order to make the institution of marriage exciting enough to attract audiences looking for escapism . . . A riveting lesson in history and pop psychology, one that will appeal to film buffs of just about every stripe, not only those interested in happily ever after.” —Entertainment Weekly
From one of our leading film historians and interpreters: a brilliantly researched, irresistibly witty, delightfully illustrated examination of “the marriage movie”; what it is (or isn’t) and what it has to tell us about the movies—and ourselves.
As long as there have been feature movies there have been marriage movies, and yet Hollywood has always been cautious about how to label them—perhaps because, unlike any other genre of film, the marriage movie resonates directly with the experience of almost every adult coming to see it. Here is “happily ever after”—except when things aren’t happy, and when “ever after” is abruptly terminated by divorce, tragedy . . . or even murder. With her large-hearted understanding of how movies—and audiences—work, Jeanine Basinger traces the many ways Hollywood has tussled with this tricky subject, explicating the relationships of countless marriages from Blondie and Dagwood to the heartrending couple in the Iranian A Separation, from Tracy and Hepburn to Laurel and Hardy (a marriage if ever there was one) to Coach and his wife in Friday Night Lights.
A treasure trove of insight and sympathy, illustrated with scores of wonderfully telling movie stills, posters, and ads.
Jeanine Basinger is the chair of film studies at Wesleyan University and the curator of the cinema archives there. She has written nine other books on film, including A Woman’s View: How Hollywood Spoke to Women, 1930–1960; Silent Stars, winner of the William K. Everson Film History Award; Anthony Mann; The World War II Combat Film: Anatomy of a Genre; and American Cinema: One Hundred Years of Filmmaking, the companion book for a ten-part PBS series.