Take 3: Marriage on the Rocks Review

When Maddy, from Maddy Loves Her Classic Films, announced her 2nd Deborah Kerr Blogathon, I was eager to participate! I had reviewed Edward, My Son last February, so I was familiar with who Deborah is as an actress. Originally, I was going to review Black Narcissus. But due to technical difficulties with my DVR, I chose to write about Marriage on the Rocks instead. The idea of a struggling couple working through their problems in Mexico sounded like an interesting concept for a comedy. I was curious to see what effect this particular location would have on the aforementioned couple and how they would be transformed along the way. Also, I haven’t reviewed a comedy in a little while, so I thought it would be a good idea to expand the cinematic horizons of 18 Cinema Lane. Since this is my first blogathon in 2020, let the review for Marriage on the Rocks begin!

Marriage on the Rocks poster
Marriage on the Rocks poster created by A-C Productions, Sinatra Enterprises, and Warner Bros. Image found at http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/24787/Marriage-on-the-Rocks/#.

Things I liked about the film:

The acting: This is the second acting performance of Deborah Kerr’s I have seen (the first was from the movie, Edward, My Son). What I’ve noticed about both performances is how much effort she puts into her roles. Even if the movie itself doesn’t hold up, Deborah still puts every piece of acting talent she has into each of her characters. In her role as Valerie Edwards, she was very expressive with her facial expressions and actions. This added to the memorability of her performance! Marriage on the Rocks is the first movie of Frank Sinatra’s I’ve ever seen. While I am familiar with Frank as a singer, I had never seen any of his acting performances before. The most notable aspect of Frank’s portrayal of Dan Edwards was how at ease he was in this role. His performing experiences related to stage presentations and programs like The Ed Sullivan Show, as well as prior movie experience, seemed to work in his favor when it came to his performance in Marriage on the Rocks! The aforementioned film is also the first time I have seen Caesar Romero act in a movie. I liked his performance because of how lively and energetic it was. It was also consistent throughout the movie, just like the performances from the rest of the cast!

 

Ernie Brewer’s house: The house of Ernie Brewer, portrayed by Dean Martin, was featured in the film on several occasions. Despite the living room being the only shown part of the house, I really liked the architecture within this space! When characters enter the house, they and viewers are greeted by walls and columns of exposed stone. As characters walk into the living room, they will come face-to-face with the room’s most prominent feature: the fire pit in the center of the room. Another fantastic element of this space is the wrap-around deck. While the deck itself is featured in only one scene, it serves the purpose of giving characters and viewers a perfect view of the ocean. Whether this location is a real-life home or a pre-constructed set, it definitely could make almost anyone want those elements as part of their own living space!

 

The opening credits: Sometimes, creative teams will come up with interesting ways to present their film’s opening credits. Marriage on the Rocks is a perfect example of this. Throughout this segment of the movie, stick figure cartoons can be seen next to people’s names and roles within the project. These stick figures were not only given to the cast, but also to the crew. When the director was introduced in the credits, he was given his own stick figure, which presented him sitting in a director’s chair. I found this to be a cute and creative way to grab the audience’s attention before the official start of the film!

2nd Deborah Kerr Blogathon banner
The 2nd Deborah Kerr Blogathon banner created by Maddy from Maddy Loves Her Classic Films. Image found at https://maddylovesherclassicfilms.wordpress.com/2019/10/08/announcing-the-2nd-deborah-kerr-blogathon/.

What I didn’t like about the film:

Comedy that was barely funny: On IMDB, Marriage on the Rocks is classified as a comedy. However, as I was watching this film, I found myself laughing only four times. Like I’ve said before, comedy is subjective. But, for me, I don’t find dysfunctionality to be hilarious. Also, the jokes themselves go on for too long. It feels like the screenwriter was having difficulty finding the punchline. There are also no breaks from the comedy, which made these jokes seem like run-on sentences. Personally, I found this aspect of the film to be an unenjoyable part to my movie-viewing experience.

 

The movie’s view on marriage and divorce: I watch movies to be entertained. While I appreciate a good message/lesson within a cinematic story, that’s not what compels me to watch any particular film. In Marriage on the Rocks, however, the overarching view on marriage and divorce made me feel uncomfortable. I personally feel that starting or ending a romantic relationship should not be taken lightly. This movie would say otherwise, portraying these two aforementioned concepts like they are effortless. Even the way most of the characters talk about marriage and divorce is concerning. One example is how David Edwards sees divorce as a way to manipulate his parents into giving him anything he wants. There were a few characters in this movie whose views were different from the overarching ones the film itself adopts. But, for most of the film, these characters are looked down upon. All the things I talked about made the views of the movie seem one-sided and skewed.

 

Problems that almost never get resolved: While watching Marriage on the Rocks, I could tell the screenwriter was trying to adopt a “comedy of errors” kind of story. But if any screenwriter is going to write a script with this kind of comedy, they need to remember that the errors have to reach a resolution. In this film, the majority of these errors don’t achieve a satisfying solution. In the rare case when one does, other problems arise because of it. The Hallmark movie, Holiday Date, is a great example of how this type of story can be executed well. In the 2019 release, the male and female protagonist experience a series of mishaps while visiting her family for Christmas. Despite this, they always found a solution that made everyone happy. Unfortunately, this never happens in Marriage on the Rocks. If anything, it made the characters’ situations even more complicated.

 

A drawn-out story: According to IMDB, Marriage on the Rocks is an hour and forty-nine minutes. To me, though, it felt like the movie was three hours. The problem here is how drawn-out the story is. This script takes a simple sounding concept and makes a bigger deal out of it than necessary. The narrative of this film could have been either a mini-series or a short film. This would have allowed the necessary plot points to be reached sooner and the script to be tighter. When I look back on it, there were things that happened in this movie just to satisfy the film’s run-time. The ongoing “second honeymoon” joke is a good example of what I’m talking about.

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Colorful travel suitcase image created by Pikisuperstar at freepik.com. <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/free-vector/beautiful-illustration-of-travel_2686674.htm’>Designed by Freepik</a>. <a href=”https://www.freepik.com/free-photos-vectors/watercolor”>Watercolor vector created by Pikisuperstar – Freepik.com</a>. Image found at freepik.com.

My overall impression:

When I chose to review Marriage on the Rocks, I thought this would be a comedic version of Expecting a Miracle. While I haven’t seen the 2009 released Hallmark film, I’m aware of what the story is about. Unfortunately, Marriage on the Rocks was not even close to what I expected. Yes, there were things about it that I liked. Ernie Brewer’s house is just one example. But, for me, this movie contained more negatives than positives. As I said in my review, the movie’s view on marriage and divorce is one of the biggest missteps this project took. I didn’t find it to be funny or entertaining, just one-sided and out of touch. Later this month, I’ll be reviewing another Frank Sinatra picture called High Society. Hopefully that one will be more enjoyable than Marriage on the Rocks was. Despite the fact it’s only the beginning of the year, I think I found a contender for worst film of 2020.

 

Overall score: 4.7 out of 10

 

Have you seen Marriage on the Rocks? Do you have a favorite film from Deborah Kerr’s filmography? Let me know in the comment section!

 

Have fun at the movies!

Sally Silverscreen

13 thoughts on “Take 3: Marriage on the Rocks Review

  1. Pingback: The 2nd Deborah Kerr Blogathon Begins – Maddy Loves Her Classic Films

  2. Hi Sally. Great piece. This is another of Deborah’s that I haven’t seen. Sounds like a VERY mixed bag. I agree with you about how much effort Deborah puts into her roles. That’s one of the reasons I love her so much, she always brought her A game to every film.

    If you want to see more of Deborah’s films, then do check these out: Heaven Knows Mr. Allison, The Innocents, The Journey, The End Of The Affair, The King And I, From Here To Eternity, Black Narcissus, The Sundowners, The Chalk Garden, An Affair To Remember.

    I see you’re checking out High Society, so if you want more good films from Frank, do check these out: The Man With The Golden Arm, From Here To Eternity, Young At Heart, Suddenly.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A warning sign for me is a movie billed as a comedy, but I don’t see actors who I would normally consider to be good at comedy. But even very gifted comedic actors can’t do much with a script that doesn’t deliver opportunities for laughs.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for checking out my review, J-Dub! You bring up an excellent point about non-comedic actors starring in comedic films. While I’m all for people trying new things and going out of their comfort zone, it doesn’t seem like ‘Marriage on the Rocks’ payed off for anyone involved in the project.

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    1. Thanks for the well wishes, Neil! When it comes to ‘Marriage on the Rocks’, the performances of Frank and Dean were one of the film’s highlights. If you do end up watching it, I would enjoy hearing your thoughts on it! Since ‘High Society’ is a musical, it seems like that movie presents more opportunities for Frank to showcase his singing abilities than in the aforementioned 1965 picture.

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  4. Hi Sally, I also love when the effort is put in for creative credits, but from the sounds of it I don’t think even that could save this movie! It certainly had potential with the casting though. I’m glad you are seeing High Society soon. That should give you a chance to see Frank in his musical surroundings. I also love seeing him paired up with Gene Kelly in his earlier movies. ANCHORS AWEIGH is a particular favorite! Cheers 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading my review, Classic Movie Muse! I haven’t seen ‘Anchors Aweigh’, but I’ll check it out as soon as I can! I’m looking forward to watching and reviewing ‘High Society’, as that review is coming very soon!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Jujuno.

    Sorry to disagree, but this movie is a great favourite with genuine Deborah Kerr fans, her personal friends, and with my own family. It started out as a satire on American marriage, but Frank messed around with the script and it ended up just being lightweight entertainment. The storyline is actually quite funny and Deborah gets one of her rare chances at comedy. We all (in Deborah-land) think she’s never been more relaxed…or beautiful. Frank particularly asked for Deborah to star in it as his wife and for years after it was made, he sent flowers to her on Mother’s Day. Deborah said she never stopped laughing while making it, because Deano was so entertaining. It isn’t supposed to be taken seriously…and it isn’t a belly-laugh comedy. It is an amusing and very well-photographed film, with Deborah having some of the most flattering dresses and outfits ever. A commentary on how easy it is to get married and divorced. Definitely worth a watch on a lazy Sunday.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for visiting my blog, Jujuno! You shared some interesting insights about the film that I was not aware of, such as the original nature of the project. I’m glad you enjoyed this movie, but it just wasn’t for me.

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