Marriage Is a Partnership
This film was made and directed by Coronet Instructional Films in the 1950s. Coronet Instructional Films was known for making many American documentary shown in public schools. The owner David Smart was very interested in visual education and the power of the film to teach and convince it’s intended audience. The films were sold to schools and libraries by a network of distributors and were quite successful.
The film Marriage Is a Partnership dramatizes the problems, adjustments, and transformations that occur in the first year of a young couple’s marriage. Played mainly by Dotty, while on a train, Dotty reflects back on her first moments of her marriage. Flashbacks dramatize some of their major conflicts that arouse between Pete and Dotty; their first house, gender roles, responsibilities, decision taking, arguments, financial and personal adjustments. The film is effective at communicating its message, because it shows that Pete and Dotty see each other as equals, treat each other with respect, consider each other’s needs, and support one another. This film is intended for young men and woman that want to know how marriage is supposed to be. It uses mainly emotional and ethical appeals.
According to the textbook, emotional appeal “stirs feelings and often invoke values that the audience is assumed to hold”. Ethical appeals, “invoke the creditability and good character of whoever is making the argument.” (Everyone’s an Author, second edition 2016 MLA update). This film is trying to teach its audience how a successful marriage was supposed to look like in the 1950’s. Dotty is a creditable person because of the way she dresses and acts how a good housewife should be in the 1950’s, she appears to be a good person. She also has a good tone of voice and the way she narrates this film shows that she is a good character. This is an example of ethical appeals. Even though Pete was not a very decent actor and there were some cheesy scenes, the overall film was effective at communicating its message.
At the beginning of the film, while Dotty was on the train she was describing what it was like after they first got married. She declares, “A marriage is far more than just loving each other… it is about making decisions together and we had to learn how to plan as partners.” (Marriage Is a Partnership). This scene is effective at communicating its message to its intended audience, because she is trying to portray that marriage is not all butterflies and fairy’s, it is both sides of the relationship putting in equal work to make it a partnership and it lets the audience know how the video is going to be played out.
Another scene in the film while Dotty was making Pete breakfast, she describes how it was Pete’s first Monday morning going back to work. While he was responsible for going to work, it was her “job” to stay home now to cook, clean and takes care of the house. This scene is effective at communicating its message because it lets the audience know how two people are putting an equal amount of effort for the marriage. It also shows the audience that this is a work of two people, not one. Also, another scene, Dotty says “a wife does appreciate her husband’s appreciation and of course that works both ways” (Marriage Is a Partnership).
This part of the film is trying to show the audience that the marriage is equal for both Dotty and Pete. This is an emotional appeal for the audience and they get a feeling of affection toward the couple. Towards the middle of the film, there is a scene where Pete and Dotty are washing dishes together this show that “Marriage Is a Partnership” and it explains the title of the film. Like most couple that face difficulties such as problems with the in-laws and feeling lonely, they still work out their problems. Dotty tries to enjoy the things Pete likes such as eating liver. Pete also tries to realize that Dotty likes to go out and have fun, he surprises her with tickets to a film because he knows that she would appreciate that. After presenting Dotty with the tickets to the film he continues to serve her more of the drink, this shows the audience that it is not always one person pleasing the other, it works both ways.
Another scene towards the end, they are sitting in front of the fire place and Pete mentions to her that he got a new job offer in central city. Pete is very excited about the offer and wants to move because he is having some issues working in the same place with his father-in-law. His co-workers believe he only got the offer because of his father-in-law but Pete thinks he earned it himself because of his hard work. Dotty tries to listen to Pete and understand where he is coming from because she can tell that this is an issue for him and by taking this job it would benefit them both. This is a way of showing the audience that communication is key for a successful marriage. Also, this shows a partnership because they both decided to take the offer and move to a new city for a fresh start. Shortly after having that talk, Dotty says, “Do you really want that job, Pete? Then that’s what we want” (Marriage Is a Partnership) with a big grin on her face. This shows an emotional appeal; the audience can tell Dotty is excited about the job offer then that makes the audience happy.
At the end of the film it shows Dotty and Pete on the train traveling to the city for Pete’s new job. For a moment it shows some bad filming by showing the back of Dotty and Pete’s head and the audience can not see their facial expression. However, it does show a happy ending with their body language as they are sitting close to each other and hugging. Dotty quotes “Wherever Pete’s job takes us, even back to our home town, I know we will work things out together as partners” (Marriage Is a Partnership).
Dotty is letting the audience know that she is happy wherever they end up if they work together and solve their problems they will have a successful marriage. Some things could be changed on this film, things like Pete’s bad acting and making things a bit awkward. There were some cheesy scenes and the filming was not the best, but the overall film was effective at communicating its message to its intended audience. This film “Marriage Is a Partnership” communicates it message clearly because it convinces the audience of what a successful marriage was supposed to look like in the 1950’s.
- “Internet Archive Search: Creator:‘Coronet+Instructional+Films.’” Full Text of “Passing”, London : F. Warne ; New York : Scribner, Welford, and Armstrong, archive.org/search.php?query=creator%3A%22Coronet%2BInstructional%2BFilms%22.
- “Marriage Is a Partnership : Coronet Instructional Films : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive.” Full Text of “Passing”, London : F. Warne ; New York : Scribner, Welford, and Armstrong, 1 Jan. 1970, archive.org/details/Marriage1951.
- Lunsford, Andrea, Michal Brody, Lida Ede, Beverly Moss, Carole Clark Papper, and Keith Walters. Everyone’s an Author with 2016 MLA update.