Monday, June 11, 2018

Rocks Under the Marriage

My last batch of DVDs purchased at Amazon included this Frank Sinatra box set, which is apparently not available over at the TCM Shop. I picked it up for The Man With the Golden Arm and Some Came Running and was willing to try the other three movies, one of which is Marriage on the Rocks. The movie is also available as a standalone DVD (but again, not at the TCM Shop for some reason) and via Amazon streaming.

Sinatra plays Dan Edwards, a Los Angeles ad executive with a wife Valerie (Deborah Kerr) and two kids (Nancy Sinatra and Michel Petit) and a nice 60s house. He's devoted to his work though, as the movie opens up on his 19th wedding anniversary which he's more or less forgotten about. Dan's business partner Ernie (Dean Martin) is a very good friend of the Edwardses, to the point that he can pick out gifts for Valerie because he knows her tastes as well as, if not better than, Dan does. In fact, there's been a running joke that perhaps Valerie married the wrong man.

At home, Dan has a lot of problems. His daughter is 18 and wants to move in with one of her friends (female, platonic), but Dad is firmly in the old camp that a girl that age shouldn't move away from home unless she's getting married. But she's got a nearly fiancé in Jim (Tony Bill). The son is hearing from all his friends, whose parents are getting divorced, and is trying to guilt his parents into giving him things. And then there's the mother-in-law from hell (Hermione Baddeley).

Anyhow, Dan has been neglecting his marriage to the point that Valerie winds up making him sleep on the couch on their anniversary night! Dan and Ernie were planning to go on a guys' fishing trip together to Mexico, but Ernie insists that Dan take Valerie instead and treat it as a second honeymoon.

Dan and Valerie get to Mexico and find out that the village they're staying in is one that caters to Americans looking for either a quickie wedding, or a quickie divorce. Local poobah Miguel (Cesar Romero) is willing to provide either for them, and after a comedy of errors, Dan and Valerie wind up getting divorced! This, even though that's not really their intention. However, it gives them a good reason to have a real marriage all over again and fix the problems in their marriage. Business delays Dan and when Ernie goes down to Mexico to tell Valerie that the wedding will have to be delayed a day or two, another comedy of errors leads to Ernie and Valerie getting married -- the ceremony planned for Valerie and Dan goes ahead, only with Valerie and Ernie. Dan realizes that he can finally teach everybody a lesson.

The plot of Marriage on the Rocks is the sort of stuff that could have made for a fun little B movie at Warners in the 1930s. Unfortunately, the movie was made in 1965. With stars like Sinatra, Kerr, and Martin, we get a sort of generation gap comedy where they're trying to be hip to the changing times, only to fall flat on their faces doing it. Kerr dancing at a nightclub where Trini Lopez is performing and Nancy Sinatra's friend dances on an elevated platform is particularly cringeworthy.

On the other hand, the movie has some spectacular set design. I've stated quite a few times that I enjoy looking at 60s houses as they were actually conceived back in the day (and not so much today's look back at the era). Sinatra's house is nice, but Dean's swinging bachelor pad on the beach is spectacular:

It's just too bad it's in service of a dud of a movie. Having said that, there's always the "judge for yourself" caveat that I like to give. And the box set isn't that expensive, so for the price you're paying for Some Came Running and The Man With the Golden Arm, you're getting three other movies as a bonus.

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