Every Girl Should Be Married (1948)
With a title which in today's world would be deemed sexist it probably comes as no surprise that "Every Girl Should Be Married" is a product of a bygone era when such thoughts were not so frowned upon. But it is also a battle of the sexes with a story revolving around shop assistant Anabel Sims setting her sights on marrying Dr. Madison W. Brown and doing everything possible to get her man, from stalking to trying to make him jealous. All of which is good lightweight fun, the sort of cheerful comedy which you kind of expect seeing that it stars Cary Grant as the Dr. in question.
Shop assistant Anabel Sims (Betsy Drake) is tired of waiting for Mr. Right to come along and ask her out, so decides to take matters into her own hands especially when she meets the handsome Dr. Madison Brown (Cary Grant - The Bishop's Wife). But rather than just doing the simple thing and asking him out she creates an elaborate plan so that he asks her, learning his routines so that she can be by coincidence in the same places as him and when that doesn't work comes up with a fictitious boyfriend to try and make him jealous.
Like many of the romantic comedies of the 40s the actual storyline to "Every Girl Should Be Married" is simple as it revolves around Anabel trying to get Dr. Madison. But the fun is how she goes about getting her man from an embarrassing visit to his surgery where she books an appointment unknowing that in fact he is a paediatrician through to stalking him so that she knows his routine and making sure she is booked in at the same restaurants as him. If it wasn't for the fact that her endeavours to get Madison are full of lightweight humour her stalking and planning could border not only on the bunny boiling but also smacking of desperation as she ropes in her friends as well as her boss into the ruse to get him.
The stupid thing is that this goes on and on with Anabel trying one inventive plan after another to make Madison want her whilst he is usually one step ahead knowing exactly what she is up to, but it never becomes boring. It doesn't even come across as boring when you can guess the inevitable outcome of this man hunt. And that is because for the most the writing is surprisingly good with some clever banter going back and forth between Anabel and Madison as he plays along with her little games.
But one of the things which is striking watching "Every Girl Should Be Married" now is the mixed message it delivers. The opening scene where we have Anabel talking to Julie she bemoans why women can't ask men out and takes the stance that they should, yet then comes up with such old fashioned gems that all women want to get married and have children. Of course "Every Girl Should Be Married" is an old movie from an era when this would have been funnier than it is now but still it just seems strange than on one moment you have "girl power" so to speak and then next traditional conservative values.
What is rather amusing is whilst "Every Girl Should Be Married" certainly stars Cary Grant and he turns on the charm as Dr. Madison it is almost a supporting performance. Instead Betsy Drake takes centre stage as Anabel Sims and she does a wonderful job of delivering all the comedy of her various plans, usually with a huge smile on her face. It's because Betsy makes us believe that Anabel is totally smitten with Madison that we get right behind her from the start and enjoy every daft plan she comes up with or even when her obsession borders on the creepy, such as when she even knows what colour shorts Madison wears. Betsy is aided by Cary Grant as well as Diana Lynn as her best friend Julie and Franchot Tone as her boss Roger Sanford all delivering fun performances often being almost stooge like to Anabel's obsession.
What this all boils down to is that "Every Girl Should Be Married" is a fun romantic comedy from a bygone era which may star Cary Grant but the real star is Betsy Drake. It does seem to have a mixed message as on one hand it is all about a woman trying to get her man yet she wants him so that she can have a traditional married life. Never the less it is full of fun scenes which make you smile more than laugh.
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