SOSC 4319
2003 - 2004

Group Project






Marriage in screwball comedy


This type of comedy often mystifies marriage by portraying it as the goal but not the end of romance and romance functions as a specific ideology that is used by these films.  Screwball comedies typically construct the viewer as subject of their romance so that he or she must feel marriage as the thing desired.

However, besides the issue of marriage there’s the phenomenon of remarriage in this type of comedy which begins with It Happened One Night (Frank Capra, 1934).  The comedy of remarriage transfers the “emphasis away from the normal question of comedy, whether a young pair will get married, onto the question of whether the pair will get and stay divorced”. (Grant, 382)

The development of this phenomenon was due women’s emancipation and liberal divorce laws to the general conditions of urban life. Between 1910 to 1940, the divorce rate nearly doubled.  Couple’s expectations from each other started to rise; making marriage a burden and personal satisfaction and happiness impossible.

However, in Woody Allen’s screwball comedy Annie Hall which was released in 1977, marriage is not viewed as a necessity or the object of the characters’ desire.  The relationship between Woody Allen (Allvy) and Diane Keaton (Annie) is very open and modern. Marriage is unimportant to Annie while Allvy is afraid of commitment. Allvy’s fear of commitment becomes obvious when Annie decides to give up her apartment and move in with Allvy.  Allvy insists that she keeps the apartment even though she won’t be using it. He even offers to pay the rent for Annie’s apartment while she’s staying with him. When Annie questions Allvy for this strange behavior, he replies “this way at least we know that we’re not married.” This movie unlike most screwball comedies doesn’t end in Allvy and Annie’s marriage. While they decide to stay friends there’s no indication that they may become lovers again or even get married.

Sanaz Gharavi







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