A bumbling public official (Victor Moore) has just been granted the right to carry out marriages when a young couple arrives at his door looking to tie the knot. Several years later, the State Governor realises the official started officiating before his employment began, so he writes to five couples to let them know they’re not as married as they thought…
What results is an anthology film about the effects of an administrative blunder on a range of dysfunctional couples. We’re Not Married features a notorious cast, whose reactions to the news of their non-existent nuptials range from horror to glee.
There’s the ruthless socialite (Zsa Zsa Gabor) who tries to diddle her husband (Louis Calhern) out of his millions; the beauty queen (Marilyn Monroe) whose husband (David Wayne) is thrilled to find he’s no longer required to do the domestic work while she pursues her dreams; and the soldier (Eddie Bracken), who’s about to be posted overseas when he realises if he doesn’t get a proper marriage quickly his unborn child will be illegitimate.
This couple is the most difficult to sympathise with, given their highly archaic concerns about a child born outside of wedlock. But the couple are innocently played by Bracken and Mitzi Gaynor to the point we genuinely feel for their plight.
While we came across this film in a Marilyn Monroe box set, her scenes are rather brief. Made in 1952, this is fairly early Monroe before she adopted her trademark makeup and perfected her husky yet airy-headed acting style.
The highlight is undoubtedly Ginger Rogers and Fred Allen as a wholesome American couple who host a product placement-filled radio show. The marriage is essential to their brand, in spite of the fact scarcely a kind word passes between them. These scenes are the most tightly written, as well as the most frequently laugh-out-loud funny. But the film as a whole is a consistently amusing showcase of talent from Hollywood’s Golden Age and makes good use of its interesting conceit.