Basinger’s Book Examines the “Marriage Movie”

Olivia DrakeApril 1, 20132min
Book by Jeanine Basinger.
Book by Jeanine Basinger.

Jeanine Basinger, the Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies, is the author of I Do and I Don’t: A History of Marriage in the Movies, published by Knopf in January 2013.

This extensively researched and illustrated book examines “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.

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. The volume contains a treasure trove of movie stills, posters and ads.