A sick day home from school today resulted in Wicked, and, in search of something just as I awesome, I then decided to watch You Belong to Me. This marks my fifteenth Barbara Stanwyck film and the official addition of Henry Fonda to my Favorite Actors list. Directed by Wesley Ruggles and released in 1941, this romantic comedy marked the third and final installment of Stanwyck/Fonda movie pairings. This movie includes everything a romantic comedy from the Golden Age should: lots of kissing, lots of humor, some pain, some jealousy, and a happy ending (with a nicely covered suggestive last line).
The movie has a simple plot:
On a ski trip, rich, idle Peter Kirk pursues and falls (literally) for Helen Hunt, M.D. After a courtship of hypochondria, she agrees to marry him on the condition that she continue to practice medicine. But will jealous Peter be able to reconcile himself to his wife's seeing male patients?-(IMDb)
Missy plays Dr. Helen Hunt, and Fonda plays Peter Kirk. This being my first oldies romantic comedy in a while, I forgot how fast couples fall in love. Before the first thirty minutes have gone by, the two have met, fallen in love, and married. I quickly got over it, though, because this was just an adorable, OTP worthy pairing. The predictable happens: Dr. Hunt is constantly being called to take care of her patients, and this especially annoys her new husband when the calls start not even a day after being married. He grows even more hurt and annoyed when he discovers a vast majority of her patients are male. The rest of the movie basically consists of Helen being called away to work, Peter getting jealous and worried about all of her male patients and interfering with her work, Helen getting mad at Peter for embarrassing her and her patients, the two making up, Peter promising he trusts her, but then breaking that promise and the whole cycle starting over again.
Eventually, Peter and Helen have a huge fight after Peter pulling a particularly embarrassing stunt. She storms off to bed and, when she wakes up, he is missing from the guest bedroom (where he was forced to sleep) and the rest of the house. Helen goes to work completely distressed over the whole matter, and it is then that her secretary declares she has become a real wife. It turns out Peter went out and found a job working at a clothing store selling ties after finally listening to Helen and realizing he needed a job to make his life worth living, even though he already had millions.
At this point, it’s important to reveal that throughout the whole film up until now, Helen has been adamant about continuing her practice. She refuses to give up her job even though she is now married. However, once she hears Peter has finally gotten himself a job, she immediately decides she can settle with him earning the money and closes down her office. This really kind of enraged me. What a great way to show a wife’s place versus her husband’s. Now, I know that ‘these were the times,’ and it was only 1941, but really? The movie started out portraying a head-strong woman just by the fact that she was a female doctor when it wasn’t a popular occupation for said sex. The dialogue made its fair share of jabs by pointing out that the only reason Peter wanted her to be his doctor (He had a small skiing accident while trying to show off for her on the ski slopes, causing him to land on his head.) was because she was a good-looking woman. That’s easier to deal with, though, because Missy did her fair share of yelling and arguing with that point. But to see her then give up what she had been calling her ‘life’s purpose’ throughout the movie all because her husband now has a job is absurd and really an insult to the female race.
Back to the plot, Peter quickly loses his job because the vast majority of the employees are mad that a millionaire is given a job he clearly doesn’t need when others who do need it are not given the chance to earn this money. After ranting to the gardener, who suggests that Peter should become an employer instead of an employee, Peter disappears yet again, worrying Helen all the more. Eventually, she gets a call saying he is at a local hospital. (At least, I assume a local hospital. That would be the small-town-America in me talking.) It is revealed that he is buying the place and this is where Helen’s earlier action of quitting her job for her marriage is sort of redeemed: Peter makes her Chief of Staff. And that kicker last line?
“There’s a kid in 219 we ought to adopt.”
“You mean if we get too busy for—if we get too busy.”
All in all, not too shabby of a movie. IMDb gives it 5.8/10 stars, and I gave it 3.5/5, mainly because I’m still not over the fact that Helen thought it was suddenly okay to give up her job for her husband like that.
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