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The Comedy of Marriage

Posted May 17, 2010 to photo album "The Comedy of Marriage"

In anticipation of the release of Lisa Cholodenko’s comedy The Kids Are All Right, FilmInFocus’ Peter Bowen and Nick Dawson look at works across multiple mediums that also poke fun at the institution of marriage.

Slide 1: The Country Wife (1675)
Slide 2: The Marriage of Figaro (1786)
Slide 3: Blondie (1930)
Slide 4: The Thin Man (1934)
Slide 5: My Favorite Wife (1940)
Slide 6: Unfaithfully Yours (1948)
Slide 7: Adam's Rib (1949)
Slide 8: We’re Not Married! (1952)
Slide 9: The Honeymooners (1955)
Slide 10: Please Don't Eat the Daisies (1960)
Slide 11: The Lockhorns (1968)
Slide 12: La Cage aux Folles (1973)
Slide 13: Seems Like Old Times (1980)
Slide 14: Roseanne (1988)
Slide 15: The War of the Roses (1989)
Slide 16: Frankie & Johnny Are Married (2003)
Slide 17: It’s All Relative (2005)
Slide 9: The Honeymooners (1955)

Slide 9: The Honeymooners (1955)

In looking at the difference between films and television series, cultural theorists early on observed that in many films marriage marks the resolution of narrative conflict, while in television, marriage is the conflict. Nowhere was this more clearly illustrated than in Jackie Gleason’s groundbreaking show The Honeymooners. The characters and situations started as a sketch that Gleason and his writing team came up with in 1951 for the show Cavalcade of Stars. Later when Gleason was given his own show at CBS, the sketch gained more and more popularity until by 1955 it evolved into its own half-hour show. The comedy came from the boisterous, bickering relationship between two couples living in a Brooklyn apartment building. Jackie Gleason played Ralph Kramden, a New York bus driver, who was married to Alice (Audrey Meadows). Upstairs lived Ed and Trixie Norton (Art Carney and Joyce Randolph, respectively), the couple that provided both comic relief and moral support to their friends. Although the skits were peppered with threats of violence (“To the moon, Alice!” or “Pow! Right in the kisser!”), the fights inevitably subsided with a declaration of Ralph’s love (“Baby, you’re the greatest”). The actual show only lasted for 39 episodes, but its shadow is as wide as Gleason’s silhouette, influencing shows from The Flintstones to King of Queens.