Last year I had the honor of participating in the William Holden Third Golden Boy Blogathon. Although Holden has never been a personal favorite of mine, I’m so glad I did, because I discovered Dear Ruth, which is a delightful, lesser known rom-com. With such great luck, I decided to join in again this year, and chose another one of Holden’s lesser known comedies, Meet the Stewarts.
Although he is in love, Michael Stewart is reluctant to marry Candace Goodwin. You see, Candy comes from a wealthy family and Michael is strictly middle class. He worries about their financial compatibility and has real doubts as to whether Candy can stick to a budget. But Candy is insistent, so they marry only after her father vows to cut her off without a dime.
The Stewarts are blissfully happy, but challenges quickly arise when they must furnish their house. They go over-budget, but Candy assures Michael they can economize elsewhere. Little does he know that this is the beginning of a pattern in their marriage. Not only does Candy have no concept of how to manage money, but she has no practical house skills either. After a disastrous joint dinner with both of their families, it is also clear that neither family has much faith in their ability to make the marriage work. When the strains of real life finally catch up and overwhelm them, will they be able to stay together?
I’ve seen films about young marriages trying to make it work (Saturday’s Children) as well as financially unequal relationships (Holiday), so the theme of Meet the Stewarts is not unfamiliar. But I do love how the challenges of happily ever after are portrayed through the lens of comedy. It shows the truth behind the issues Michael and Candy face, but with a softer focus.
I found Meet the Stewarts to be an absolutely delightful comedy; light and frothy with a quick pace. Even though events move rapidly, it doesn’t feel like anything important is left on the cutting room floor.
Golden Holden (as I think of him) is at his most youthful, beautiful self. As Michael, he is the straight man in this comedy. Michael’s experience with the real world makes him the one who has to set the boundaries in their marriage. However, he is so in love with his wife and so easily charmed by her, that he often doesn’t enforce the “rules” like he should. This puts more and more stress on him but it never interferes with his devotion to Candy.
I’ve never seen Frances Dee (Joel McCrea’s wife) in a starring role before. I absolutely adore her as the naive Candy. It’s rather refreshing to see a brunette as the flighty heiress in a romantic comedy for a change. I also like how the film portrays her desire to sincerely honor her husband’s wishes. She’s not conniving or greedy, it’s just that her past habits and mindset often get the better of her. And when it comes right down to it, she proves that she sympathizes with Michael’s burdens and is willing to change her ways.
I do wish Meet the Stewarts had included more scenes with the various family members. These parts are filled by talented character actors like Grant Mitchell, Marjorie Gateson and an underutilized Anne Revere who never the less has a pivotal role. I thought Danny Mummert and Ann Gillis as Candy’s siblings John and Jane were so cute. The wicked witch herself, Margaret Hamilton makes a brief appearance also, as a useless maid the Stewarts are scared to fire.
Like all rom-coms, Meet the Stewarts stretches the bounds of believability sometimes. I also found myself a bit frustrated with Candy’s complete inability to understand the purpose of a budget. However despite these minor flaws, I definitely enjoyed this foray into Holden’s earlier oeuvre before he became famous for more dramatic roles. Fortunately, this movie is currently available to stream on Amazon Prime, because I can not find it anywhere else. If you are a Holden fan, I certainly recommend Meet the Stewarts.
This is my contribution to The Fourth Golden Boy Blogathon hosted by Virginie at The Wonderful World of Cinema, Emily at The Flapper Dame, and Michaela at Love Letters to Old Hollywood. They all write wonderful posts on classic films that I enjoy reading. Please check out their websites and don’t forget to read the other entries in the William Holden Blogathons both past and present!