Two movies that accidentally promote morality

Recently I watched two movies by which I was pleasantly surprised, since both promoted sexual and marital virtue, if only indirectly.

[SPOILER ALERT]

The first was “The Best of Everything” (1959), about three female roommates and co-workers, each of whom is romantically involved with a man. One of them sleeps with the guy and he ends up dumping her since he’s rich and handsome and a producer of plays, and therefore has pretty young actresses constantly throwing themselves at his feet. She becomes pathetically obsessed and starts stalking him (digging through his garbage and so forth), and ends up falling off a balcony and getting killed.

The second one surrenders her virtue when her rich, young, handsome boyfriend (not the same guy as above) swears that he would love her even if she were not “pure”. He is lying, of course, and when she becomes pregnant, instead of marrying her he tries to take her to an abortion doctor. She refuses to abort her baby though, and goes so far as to jump out of the car, and as a consequence ends up hospitalized and loses her baby anyway.

The third roommate is dumped by her fiance, who marries into a rich family, but then tries to entice her into being his mistress. She says yeah right, as if! and ends up happily ever after with a better guy.

None of the women does the right thing for the right reasons, i.e. because it’s virtuous. Woman no. 2 is ashamed of the situation she got herself into, but mainly because of how socially humiliating it is. The one who refuses to be a guy’s mistress does so mainly out of self-respect, or so it seems.

But the point is, the movie shows what kinds of messes you can get yourself into by allowing yourself to be in morally perilous situations, and how much more prudent it is to reserve sex for marriage.

“My Old Lady” (2014) is mainly about how a man’s life gets screwed up as a result of his father’s infidelity during his childhood, and how he meets a woman who is the daughter of the woman his father was unfaithful with, and who is equally screwed up. We learn that the man’s mother had committed suicide and that he himself had attempted suicide years earlier.

Part of you wants to yell, “You’re 57 years old, get over it!” Still, one likes seeing a modern movie that points up the pain inflicted on the children of infidelity.

When there is a question as to whether the man and the woman he meets might actually be brother and sister, and therefore should avoid romantic attachment, the woman’s mother, a European sophisticate (who was unfaithful with the man’s father), says “Oh heck, what difference does it make, you can’t have kids anyway!” This disgusts the woman. Again, good for the movie producers for giving the finger to the prior generation’s anything-goes attitude towards sexual morality.

Along the way the protagonist chides the woman (before they have fallen in love with each other) for having a boyfriend who is married with children.

So again, condemnations of immorality in the form of marital infidelity all round, the moral of the story seeming to be, it screws up people’s lives royally and decent people shouldn’t act that way.

My favorite line of the movie was something like, “Following your heart always ends up breaking someone else’s.”

As a bonus, the movie “Mr. Holmes” (2015) (starring the actor who played Gandalf as an elderly Sherlock Holmes) features a character who insists on purchasing gravestones for her two miscarried fetuses. Pretty good movie.

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