This film is part of Free

Marriage and Divorce

A nervous couple tie the knot in front of a stern priest, in a film which is enjoyable for the sheer zest with which it shows the varieties of misery possible in modern marriage.

Documentary 1948 17 mins


March of Time's entertaining and informative look at divorce in post-war America, which uses humorous depictions of domestic discord (played by actors) to inject lighter moments into a film which gives a balanced view of a serious social problem. Featuring a range of opinions, from the conservative Marynia Farnham, to the liberal views of anthropologist Margaret Mead, the film ends by noting that marriage is more popular than ever and that four million babies were born in 1947.

The scene in which a female boss dictates a letter to her male secretary illustrates nicely the significance of the rise in female independence: since 1936, one American woman in four was earning her own living. But despite the gloomy tone of much of the film, the surge in post-war divorce rates had in fact dropped by the end of 1947 and would continue to do so for the rest of the decade. The optimistic note on which the film ends touches on an equally socially significant trend: the post-war baby boom.