Thursday, July 31, 2008

Quentin Tarantino likes Aldo Ray

One of the things that Quentin Tarantino discussed in his Under the Influence interview with Elvis Mitchell, which aired on Monday night on TCM, was his liking of certain 1950s actors, notably Aldo Ray. Ray was good at playing a certain type of blue-collar, seemingly a bit naïve character who gets himself into a less-than-desirable position. I've recommended Ray before in Nightfall. TCM highlighted Tarantino's likeing of Ray by showing a different movie, however: The Marrying Kind.

Ray stars alongside the great Judy Holliday as a married couple who are not only on the verge of divorce; they're in divorce court. The judge, however, is a sympathetic sort, and she sits the battling husband and wife down after court one day and asks them about their marriage, hoping to find out just why it went wrong. The results range from humorous to heartbreaking as we get a picture of a relationship that started with such high hopes, only to fall under the weight of expectations that couldn't be met, and a string of tragedies both small and large. (I don't wish to spoil anything for those of you who haven't seen it, so I won't go into more detail than this.)

Judy Holliday is excellent as always. Although she's best known for playing blondes who seem ditzy, but also smarter than they look, in a series of comedies, she shows in The Marrying Kind that she could do straight-up drama fairly well, too. This was Ray's first starring role (note how, in the closing credits, it says something to the effect of "We hope you enjoy him in our next feature"), and he too does quite well. It's a role that fits him, as a postal worker who, like all of us, has big dreams that are dashed. You can tell that deep down inside, this is a man who loves his wife, but who just doesn't understand what's happening to him, and has no idea how to respond to it all. The two also seem fairly believable as a couple, although at times, Holliday seems just a bit to glamorous to be playing a struggling wife.

The one other problem that the movie has it that it sometimes seems as though it's not sure what it wants to be. Is it a straight-up drama? Is it a melodrama? Or perhaps, it's a somewhat dark romantic comedy, along the lines of The Shop Around the Corner. Don't let that detract from your enjoyment of the movie as a whole, however. On balance, it's quite a nice, endearing little picture that deserves to be better remembered than it is, especially considering that it's got an Oscar-winner like Judy Holliday in it. Fortunately, The Marrying Kind has been released on DVD, so it won't fall completely into oblivion.

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