Plot: Ken (Norman Foster) wants to marry his sweetheart Lola (Loretta Young), but he tells her he needs to be more financially secure before he takes the vows, as he wants to be a good provider. He has a chance to climb the ladder at work, but he would have to leave the country for a while, which Lola is convinced would lead to the couple’s long distance end. In an effort to keep him around, she spins a yarn about another suitor and while the opportunities at work are substantial, Ken keeps his old position and stays to marry Lola instead. Soon however, things take a downturn and Ken’s pay is cut back, leading to a drop in mood and some bad choices. When he is fired after a bender, Lola steps up to work and help out, much to Ken’s dismay. As she becomes the provider, can Ken handle the shift or will this ruin the relationship?
Entertainment Value: This brisk pre-code melodrama mines a well worn premise, but has some great performances and memorable moments. The idea of a man struggling with his wife eclipsing his own success is one that has been explored many times, but Week-End Marriage is able to give it a little pre-code kick that helps this version stand out from the others. As if a couple sharing the bed wasn’t scandalous enough, we have some social commentary woven in about women’s rights, though it is a rough road for the ladies of the pictures. The film is able to do a lot in just over an hour, with a focus on economical narrative and a quick pace, which means things move fast, but don’t seem rushed or fumbled. I appreciate the efficiency in films like Week-End Marriage, as it can’t be a simple task to make so much happen in such a short time, but it pulls it off and doesn’t miss a beat. Not as wild as some pre-code fare perhaps, but I had fun with this one and fans of classic cinema should find a lot to like here, as well as those who enjoy Loretta Young’s work.
One of the real draws of Week-End Marriage is the cast, a talented ensemble that more than delivers here. I think the lineup is impressive from top to bottom, but of course, Loretta Young is going to lure in a lot of films fans. She is beyond radiant in this one and is able to handle the dramatic, comedic, and romantic needs of the role, so she is given a lot to work with. The pre-code freedoms allow her to be more than the usual doting housewife here, which lets Young have a little more depth and she makes the most of the material. The movie showing us marriage through a unique pre-code perspective is one reason the film works so well, so Young’s more involved role as the wife plays right into that appeal. George Brent is excellent as usual, but his fans might be a little let down, as his role is a small one. But his scenes are memorable and if nothing else, it speaks to the cast involved, to have such a talented performer on hand for a smaller part. The cast also includes Grant Mitchell, Norman Foster, Vivienne Osborne, and in an often scene stealing role, Aline MacMahon.
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