Saturday, April 19, 2014

Mr. & Mrs. Smith (1941)


Beefing on Hitchcock
Mr. & Mrs. Smith

A married couple who often have fights that last for days, discover that their marriage license, through a fluke, is not valid. This leads to a weeks-long game of cat and mouse, wherein the husband relentlessly attempts to win his wife back.

A quirky little romantic comedy, Mr. & Mrs. Smith doesn't really deliver much of a story or plot, nor does it really need to. To call the premise "simple" is a bit of an understatement, but the film does exactly what it sets out to do and does not need any mystery or crime to drive the movie along.

While not the first or only pure comedy by Hitchcock, I don't think this one is quite a strong as the much earlier The Farmer's Wife or the later The Trouble With Harry and from all accounts, Hitchcock was entirely in agreement on this matter.

The story revolves entirely around the estranged husband trying to win back his wife who, through a series of very obvious misunderstandings, is resisting with all her might. She quite obnoxiously flaunts her newfound freedom at any chance she gets, going even so far as to form a supposedly deep relationship with her husband's business partner.

Her brutal lack of caring for the man she had once married and earlier professed undying love for aggravates the viewer almost immediately and continues to get worse as the film progresses. I'm quite certain that was the intended response, so with that in mind, it was a huge success. It's not actually entirely obvious just why the husband is so persistent after everything she does to him up until the very last scene, when it becomes clear that this has all been just another one of their petty fights all along... albeit an incredibly long one. In the end, it was all just a big game to them, and at the expense of everyone else around them.

In all, I found the movie to be a bit drab but at the same time quite charming and enjoyable... and I found the characters entirely despicable, particularly the wife, although I'm sure if the tide had turned it would have been the husband running and the wife pursuing him.

The one thing I can think of that would have made this at least a bit more fulfilling to watch would have been even the slightest bit of growth in the characters. When the end comes and you realize it was all just a petty game to them both, it's also very apparent that neither of them has actually learnt anything through the ordeal... and that there may very well be more incidents like this in their future...

...but I guess that's why it's a comedy?