“You can’t tear up my marriage license-that’s adultery.”
The Bride Walks Out is a delightful comedy film that explores the financial struggles of a young married couple. When the film begins, Carolyn (Barbara Stanwyck) is a floor model earning $50 a week. Martin (Gene Raymond), an engineer, makes $25 a week, but after getting a new job, his pay increases to $35 a week. He decides that on his new salary, they can afford to get married. He insists, however, that Carolyn should give up her job. After outlining a budget, he thinks they will have 50 cents left after paying all the bills. Martin’s insistence that Carolyn give up her job almost ends the relationship, but in spite of Carolyn’s misgivings, she agrees, and then immediately regrets it.
Carolyn wants a proper (expensive) wedding and an extended honeymoon, but all they can manage is a hasty few minutes at the courthouse. This immediately causes trouble between the newlyweds, and after an argument, Martin ends in front of a judge on a variety of charges. The marriage begins problematically, and the newlyweds are soon consumed with debt. Martin fills their home with furniture, and Carolyn launches out on shopping expeditions. Soon, she’s hiding bills demanding payment and letters threatening repossession.
Directed by Leigh Jason, The Bride Walks Out is representative of those zippy comedies the 30s is so famous for. Witty dialogue and a fast moving plot never allow this film to fall into sentimentality while splendid supporting roles add to the fun. There’s the inebriated millionaire playboy Hugh Mackenzie (Robert Young) who meets Carolyn and Martin in the courthouse and then follows them back home. But some of the funniest scenes involve Martin’s workmate–the cynical Paul Dodson (Ned Sparks) and his long-suffering wife Mattie (Helen Broderick). The Dodsons’ marriage is also fraught with financial hardships, but it’s been going on so long, it’s now become a joking matter with an edge of bitter truth. In one scene, Mattie tells Paul, “I haven’t had a fur coat since our police dog was shedding.” Barbara Stanwyck fans–and those who love 30s comedies–should really enjoy this entertaining film.