Warming up with June Bride


Davis and Montgomery, looking askance at each other on the movie poster
Here are a movie trailer and two radio adaptations of a snow-flaky romantic comedy called “June Bride,” about a magazine team trying to get a wedding feature written in a midwestern winter so that it will be set in type to greet spring readers. The complication: The magazine editor and her star reporter were once a romantic couple. The trailer for the movie said it: “Turns a one-ring ceremony into a three-ring circus.”

June Bride, the film, starred Bette Davis and Robert Montgomery in 1948. Its success reportedly made Davis the highest paid actress in Hollywood — and presumably had something to do with Lux Radio Theatre’s decision to adapt the Hollywood tale as an hour-long radio drama the next year, and then do it again just three years later.

The plot and its questions:

  • Reporter Carey Jackson has been fired from his foreign correspondent job — and reassigned to write “Home Life in America” features for his former girlfriend, Home Life magazine’s editor Linda Gilman.
  • Can he be happy writing family-wedding features from Indiana instead of uncovering big news in Berlin?
  • Can he stifle his inclination to find “an angle” that makes the wedding story a case of tabloid chaos?
  • Can she forgive him for panicking at the prospect of marrying an ambitious female editor and walking out on her three years earlier?

In some ways it’s a flipside of “His Girl Friday,” but with the woman editorially on top. In the three years since her reporter-beau left town, she has become a strong and practical executive, more interested in her career than marriage to anyone — especially not marriage to an adventure-seeking foreign correspondent.

“I’d wake up some morning and find you were in Afghanistan,” she tells him, back when that was a place name synonymous with locations least likely to be visited by American reporters.

For today’s journalism students, along with arguments over mid-century stereotypes and the “female-editor-authority-figure vs. irresponsible male reporter” theme, the story might launch good discussions of differences in the “news values” of a scandal-mongering reporter and the expectations of a “service feature” magazine.

Both the magazine’s treatment of the planned wedding and the reporter’s search for a news angle have elements of manipulation worth talking about — from the editor’s staging a “June” wedding in the winter and sawing the family couch in half for the benefit of the magazine’s photographers, to the reporter’s idea of orchestrating a romantic triangle to make the story less than routine. (Even he has second thoughts about that idea.)

And then there’s the possibility of another romantic triangle that might resolve the editor-reporter romance.

If nothing else, students may be amused — or aghast — at the story’s cuteness and its treatment of gender roles in mid-20th century. They may learn something about apple cider. And a discussion of what has and hasn’t changed in 60 years could fill a chilly winter-semester classroom. (I’m also curious whether younger listeners who don’t know their “Golden Age of Hollywood” stars will prefer the 1948 or 1953 versions.)

Other sources:

YouTube has a few clips from the film, as well as the trailer above. Here’s one where the inquiring reporter is put in his place: “Uncle Henry… We don’t talk about him…”

About Bob Stepno

mild-mannered reporter who fell deeper into computers and the Web during three trips through graduate school in the 1980s and 1990s, then began teaching journalism, media studies and Web production, most recently as a faculty member at Radford University.
This entry was posted in 1940s, 1950s, adaptations, comedy, editors, foreign correspondents, magazines, romance, women. Bookmark the permalink.

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