At one time, sex comedies proliferated on Broadway. With movies suffering under the burden of the MPAA production code and TV unable to surmount FCC regulations, the stage was the only place sex could be discussed without much worry from censors. The Marriage-Go Round was one of those sex comedies that in its day seemed quite risqué but by today’s standards is beyond tame. Still, the play was slyly adapted for the screen by its playwright Leslie Stevens, and while the sex-based premise was still there, poor casting in the leading roles and unimaginative direction spoiled what fun there might have been in the slim story.
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution and Encode: 480P/MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio: English 2.0 DD
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 1 Hr. 37 Min.
Package Includes: DVD
Disc Type: DVD-R
Release Date: 02/01/2013
Paul Delville (James Mason) and his wife Content (Susan Hayward) both work at the same college, he as a professor and she as the dean of women. They’re thrilled when a Nobel Prize-winning scientist friend from Sweden asks to be their house guest and bring along his daughter and gladly accept. But, they haven’t seen the daughter in a decade and when she arrives (without her father), Katrin Sveg (Julie Newmar) is a statuesque blonde with a devastating figure with only one thing on her mind. She wants Paul to father a child with her reasoning that with his intelligence and her smashing looks, their baby would be a demigod. Content and Paul are both taken aback by such a brazen request and try to explain American sexual mores to Katrin without much luck. The more he thinks about it, the more Paul toys with the idea of possibly going through with it much to Content’s exasperation.
The Production Rating: 2.5/5
In adapting his freewheeling sex comedy for the movies, Leslie Stevens had to tone down the most explicit sex talk and let innuendo do most of the work. Thus, the material is handled more tastefully, but it definitely loses its naughtiness and most of its mirth quotient. The play is opened up by staging such eye-catching moments as a barrage of muscle-bound males ogling the Amazonian beauty poolside (wrestling with her and then watching her dive) and by including side trips to lecture halls and cafes. But director Walter Lang who had filmed many a play for the movies (most memorably with The King and I) doesn’t do much with this material flatly directing the scenes and not using the Cinemascope frame with much imagination. And there’s a tiresome tiff between husband and wife in the film’s final third based on a misunderstanding that could be cleared up in two seconds but which drags on for a quarter hour (and even that mishap wouldn’t have occurred if the wife had exercised the opportunity to eject the girl when she had the chance instead of unbelievably allowing her to remain on the premises).
The film isn’t helped by the miscasting of the two leads either. James Mason doesn’t have any natural comic rhythm (imagine what Cary Grant could have done with the premise) and doesn’t earn a single laugh. Susan Hayward is slightly better, but she doesn’t have quite the coy, dry turn of phrase that Claudette Colbert would have brought to the material (she played it on stage and earned a Tony nomination for her work). Julie Newmar, of course, is dream casting as Katrin and fills the bill both physically and comedically (she won the Tony Award for her performance on Broadway). Robert Paige does yeoman’s work in the thankless part of Dr. Ross Barnett, married to another but in love with Content and frustrated by no encouragement from her.
The film’s Cinemascope aspect ratio of 2.35:1 is faithfully rendered in this transfer and is anamorphically enhanced for widescreen televisions. (The liner notes are a little misleading in stating that it’s 16:9 letterboxed.) The first half of the film features good sharpness and strong color with accurate flesh tones and no problem with hues being too hot, even with Hayward’s red hair. But after the pool sequence, color tends to fade and is much less appealing and strong. Black levels are average throughout. A series of stationary white scan lines appear in the upper letterbox bar until they magically disappear at around the 55-minute mark. Again, a lack of attention to detail mars another Fox MOD release. The film has been divided into chapters every ten minutes so this disc contains 10 chapters.
Video Rating: 3.5/5 3D Rating: NA
The Dolby Digital 2.0 mono sound mix when decoded by Dolby Prologic winds up in the center channel. There is constant, rather loud, and annoying hiss that is even more prominent due to the volume level of the disc’s encode (though it’s not quite as loud as other recently reviewed MODs). There’s some shrill distortion early on with the music, and there’s not much bass in this sound mix. Dialogue has been well recorded, however, so none of the somewhat stagy speeches the actors must deliver are affected by sound effects or music.
Audio Rating: 2.5/5
This made-on-demand disc does not contain any bonus material.
Special Features Rating: 0/5
The Marriage-Go-Round hasn’t stood the test of time very well in terms of the comic impishness it so desperately wants to convey, but at least the made-on-demand disc features an anamorphic widescreen transfer that is faithful to its Cinemascope roots. Too bad that can’t be said of a great many discs in this ill-fated Fox program.
Overall Rating: 2.5/5
Reviewed By: Matt Hough
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