Every Girl Should Be Married is definitely the least of the three films discussed in this series. While Three Loves Has Nancy and Tom, Dick, and Harry are cute, sweet, simple romantic comedies with unique, likable characters and unpredictable outcomes, Every Girl Should Be Married lacks… pretty much all those things. And there’s some creepiness thrown in as well. A lot of creepiness, actually.
Anabel (Betsy Drake) has a nice boyfriend back home, but meets the perfect man in Dr. Madison Brown (Cary Grant). She’s determined to marry him, but he shows little interest, so she invents a scheme to trap him. This scheme involves following him around, invading his personal life so she can learn every single thing about him, and basically being a lunatic. During this endeavor, she attracts the attentions of her boss, Roger Stanford (Franchot Tone), and she considers playing the two men off of each other.
If this movie was remade today, there’s no way it could be made as anything other than a psychological thriller. Really, I’m not sure how his movie was perceived back when it original released. Instead of coming of as quirky and cute, Anabel comes across as a clingy, desperate lunatic, and definitely on of my most hated film characters. She stalks Madison relentlessly, invades his privacy to learn every detail of his life, down to the magazines he reads. When he takes out another girl, she behaves like he’s cheating on her, even though she really barely notices her. It’s not cute. It’s creepy.
And Betsy Drake’s performance doesn’t really help. The actress has almost no charisma. Perhaps if a better actress had the role, it wouldn’t have been quite so damn creepy, but Drake is completely void of charisma. The character she creates is like those girls you couldn’t stand in high school. The ones who’s life was dependent completely on the guy she liked, who was so overdramatic about that she’d cry in the bathroom anytime he ignored her, and acted like they were going steady if he so much as glanced at her. The girl who thought that psycho obsessive stalking somehow proved her love.
That’s actually the biggest problem with the movie, and it’s evident in the title. While Three Loves Has Nancy is really about how the men are dependent on Nancy, and Tom, Dick, and Harry is such a light movie that the idea of dependence is never really important, Every Girl Should Be Married, even with a female lead who’s supposed to seem strong, is incredibly insulting. Anabel’s life is completely incomplete and worthless without this man, despite the fact that she has a not-so-bad job and a wonderful best friend. All of it means nothing unless she can marry a doctor. There are films where, even though I have problems with their politics, I can’t fault because they’re products of their times. But watch so many movies from this time and before, where women were becoming wonderfully self sufficient and independent, Every Girl Should Be Married is just an insulting step backward.
Franchot Tone plays the other guy yet again, and is by far the best part of the movie. His character is the cad with a heart of gold. He’s clearly after one thing, but he also has a genuine admiration and affection for Anabel (god knows why). He’s the most likable, and the most interesting thing in the movie.
But there’s never any question of who she’s going to end up with. Her hometown boyfriend is basically forgotten, the affectionate cad is used only to help Anabel’s sill scheme, and the film sends the horrible message that stalking a man like a crazy person will win you Cary Grant’s heart.