McKinley Stinkers

At the behest of a friend, I taped and recently watched June Bride. It’s a formulaic late forties romantic comedy. My friend is interested in the history of interior design and recommended it for those reasons. Robert Montgomery and Bette Davis are two journalists who were once an item. He came down with a bad case of committment phobia and ran off to be a war correspondent. The war is now over. The New Look is in and Robert Montgomery’s character is now writing for a Better Homes and Gardens clone, which is edited by none other than Bette Davis. Their first assignment is to go off to the wilds of small-town Indiana and do a makeover on one American family about to undergo a wedding.

I found it interesting viewing for two reasons. One of the ingenues is played by Betty Lynn, who later went on to play Thelma Lou on the Andy Griffith Show. The second reason has more to do with the changing times. Although Davis plays a woman who is extremely bright, intelligent, successful and darm good at her job, the movie ends with her giving all that up to go off and follow Robert Montgomery to Eastern Europe as a properly submissive American wife. These kinds of endings become increasingly common during this period–not that they negate the 90% of the film where we’re shown that the career woman is just as good if not better than her male counterpart.

Incidentallly, “McKinley Stinker” is a big ol’ Victorian. The characters make jokes about the wallpaper, take saws to the sofa (which made no sense to me) and the gingerbread. I’m sure for audiences in 1949, the end product was fresh and modern, but here in the 21st century, that the “Truman Modern” is any vast improvement.

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