Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the Arts & Faith community — which I’ve been a member of since before the A&F website was created ten years ago — has released a list of the Top 25 Films on Marriage. This is the third Top 25 list that the A&F community has produced in the last few years, as a supplement to our occasional Top 100 films-of-all-time lists — but it is the first Top 25 that I myself took part in. The first was devoted to horror films, of which I am not a particularly big or well-informed fan, and the second was devoted to road movies, which was so broadly defined that some movies on that list — such as 2001: A Space Odyssey — don’t even feature any roads! (But the movie still portrays a “pilgrimage” of sorts, so.) However, I did very much want to take part in the marriage-movie list, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that one of my favorite movies of all time — a very obscure (on this continent) British flick called The Family Way — came in at #8. I wrote the blurb on that film, as well as the blurb on Hobson’s Choice, a David Lean comedy (yes, they do exist!) which came in at #22. To learn more about the list, and the community that produced it, check out this introductory essay by M. Leary at Good Letters, the blog hosted by Image magazine.
One of my favorite films of all time is The Family Way, a comic drama from the mid-1960s about a newlywed couple from the north of England whose honeymoon plans fall through and who struggle with the fact that, a few months after the wedding, their marriage remains unconsummated, possibly because they are compelled by economic necessity to live with the husband’s parents. In one scene, the husband and wife go for a stroll through the town, where they are increasingly turned off by various public displays of affection as well as the nudge-nudge nods to sex that they see in the storefront-window advertisements. When they finally have a moment to themselves, the husband, frustrated by his impotence, reminds his wife of a time when they almost did have sex, before they were married; perhaps, he says, they should have done it then, just to break the ice, and she replies that, if she had lost her virginity then, she would not have been able to wear white at their wedding.