Cast & Crew
Robert Z. Leonard
Throat specialist Dr. Lincoln I. Bartlett is dismayed when his ex-wife, opera diva Ina Massine, returns to New York after three years and suggests that their divorce may have been a mistake. Although Linc is now engaged to Agnes Young, the daughter of his mentor, Dr. Carleton Radwin Young, Ina is determined to win Linc back. She arranges with her old friend, impressario "Delly" Delacorte, to be the featured singer for a doctor's orchestra in which Linc plays the oboe, and pretends not to care when the flustered Linc introduces her to Agnes. A few days later, Ina lets herself into their old apartment while Linc is showering. He tries to make her leave, because his older brother Chris, a toy manufacturer who has always been attracted to Ina, and Agnes will soon arrive for drinks, but just as Linc grabs Ina's arm to throw her out, Chris and Agnes come in. Although annoyed, Agnes accepts Linc's explanation of what happened. On Ina's opening night in La Bohème , she has a sore throat, and Delly calls Dr. Young. Because Young is away, Linc comes in his stead, not knowing the consultation is for Ina, and assumes she is faking. When he examines her throat, though, she shows symptoms of a tropical disease he fears she picked up on tour in South America. He warns that she must rest her voice or risk losing it permanently, and she pretends to acquiesce, but moments later goes onstage. After an impeccable performance, Ina concludes that Linc has made a bad diagnosis, until the next day, when she goes into a screaming rage after reading about Linc and Agnes' impending marriage and suddenly cannot speak. When Young examines Ina's throat, he tells Linc that it is not a tropical disease, but the psychosomatic illness "functional euphonia," that the high-strung Ina contracted following the shock of Linc's marriage announcement. Young advises that psychiatric help and a new love interest will lead to Ina's speedy recovery. A worried Linc then relates the problem to Chris, who is happy to provide Ina's new love interest. He suggests that they both go out with Ina, then Linc should gradually come up with phony emergencies so that Chris and Ina can be alone. Linc agrees to a thirty-day trial, but Ina shows no interest in Chris. One evening, when Chris is entertaining out-of-town clients, Ina uses her time alone with Linc to show him her diary, hoping to prove to him that the divorce was not entirely her fault. She then suggests that they go to Greenwich Village to one of their favorite places from the old days. Although he is reluctant, Linc enjoys the Dixieland music and dances the Charleston so enthusiastically that he attracts the attention of some of Agnes' friends. On the way home in a cab, Ina cuddles up to Linc, causing him to lose a button. She pantomimes that she can mend it for him and invites him back to her place. In her apartment, Ina continues to try to seduce Linc, but he leaves after receiving a call from the cabbie, whom he had secretly asked to telephone him feigning a medical emergency. The next morning, Agnes' friends call to tell her about Linc, prompting her to confront him. He manages to assuage her anger and goes through with a planned lecture to her women's club on avoiding the common cold, only to come down with one himself as the club's air conditioning unit blows cold air on him. When Agnes phones him that night, he encourages her to go to the theater with Chris, instead of coming to attend him, so that he can get some sleep. He also speaks with Stella, Ina's maid, and asks her to tell Ina that he is too sick to go out. A short time later, Ina lets herself into the apartment and comforts Linc with a warm foot bath, some soup and a hot toddy. Her remedies soon relax the feverish Linc and he falls into a deep sleep listening to a recording of her singing Bizet's Carmen . The music inspires Linc to dream that he, Agnes and Chris are also in the opera and he awakens screaming for Ina. Ina, meanwhile, has been sleeping in a pair of his pajamas on the couch, and when he awakens her suddenly, her voice returns. They are both so happy that they embrace, just as Chris and Agnes walk into the apartment. Agnes is furious, especially when Linc tries to explain that he was following her father's recommendation. Hearing this, Ina is also angry and leaves, still in Linc's pajamas. When Agnes then sternly advises him on what the terms of their marriage must be, Linc suddenly loses his voice and Agnes storms out. Just then, a policemen brings back Ina, who was not appropriately dressed for walking the streets. When she deduces that Linc's functional euphonia means that he still loves her, she agrees to marry him again and they kiss, thus restoring his voice.
Robert Z. Leonard
Firehouse Five Plus Two
Victor Sen Yung
Betty Jane Howarth
Anna Q. Nilsson
Harold O. Cooperman M.d.
A. Lindsley Lane
Robert Z. Leonard
Frederick Y. Smith
William J. Tuttle
Edwin B. Willis
Grounds for Marriage
In the film, Grayson plays Ina Massine, an opera diva, and Johnson is her ex-husband, Dr. Lincoln Bartlett, who is now engaged to Agnes Young (Paula Raymond), the daughter of a doctor. Ina wants Lincoln back and pulls all kinds of shenanigans to get her man. The film was really just an excuse to watch Grayson sing selections from La Bohème, although curiously, she was not the first actress cast in the role. June Allyson had the part but was later replaced. Likewise, Robert Walker was set to play Lincoln Bartlett but was replaced with Van Johnson.
Paula Raymond later said about the film, "I played [...] the second lead to Kathryn Grayson. I had to play that pretty coldly, because the sympathy script-wise was with my character who was being ditched for this frantic diva who was making so much trouble for my fiancé. That wasn't really too satisfactory." More enjoyable was getting to know composer Bronislau Kaper, who was writing the original score for the film. "There was a sign over my nameplate on my portable dressing room, I couldn't make out what it said. They told me, 'Oh, that's Bronislau Kaper; he's scoring the movie.' After meeting him, I would go over to Bronie's bungalow, he would sit at the piano and play, I'd sing and I would bring a lot of my collection of music."
Grounds for Marriage premiered in New York on Jan 11, 1951 and in Los Angeles the following night. It was not well received by the critics. The Rotarian called the plot, "simply a frame on which to hang well-done musical sequences, comic 'acts' such as the rehearsal of the physicians' amateur orchestra, the throat specialist's lecture on the ridiculousness of fear of the common cold while painfully aware of a dangerous draft. Slight, but good fun." Bosley Crowther's review in The New York Times questioned the sanity of the screenwriters in having Grayson's character have psychosomatic laryngitis throughout much of the film; essentially placing her in a mostly non-singing role. "Miss Grayson is rendered unable to sing for a lengthy stretch in this picture when her talents might be most well employed. In view of the fact that the writers have provided little else to fill the void, we can only assume that they, too, were suffering-from, perhaps, a temporary loss of mind. For Miss Grayson's singing in her pictures has generally been their chief delight. Miss Grayson standing around smiling while Van Johnson clowns is not the same. And Mr. Johnson's clowning as a doctor who is attempting to avoid the romantic onsets of his ex-wife is the principal substance of this film."
Despite the bad reviews, Van Johnson and Kathryn Grayson recreated their roles a year later on the Lux Radio Theater in November 1952.
Producer: Samuel Marx
Director: Robert Z. Leonard
Screenplay: Laura Kerr, Allen Rivkin; Samuel Marx (story)
Cinematography: John Alton
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, Paul Groesse
Music: Bronislau Kaper
Film Editing: Fredrick Y. Smith
Cast: Van Johnson (Dr. Lincoln I. Bartlett), Kathryn Grayson (Ina Massine), Paula Raymond (Agnes Oglethorpe Young), Barry Sullivan (Chris Bartlett), Reginald Owen (Dely Delacorte), Lewis Stone (Dr. Carleton Radwin Young), Richard Hageman (Dr. Engelstaat), Richard Anderson (Tommy), Paula Drew (Helen), Victor Desny (Count de Beaugard),Theresa Harris (Stella, Ina's Maid), Robert Sherwood (Petie), Elizabeth Flournoy (Brevarde), Torben Meyer (Donovan).
C-90m. Closed Captioning.
by Lorraine LoBianco
The AFI Catalog of Feature Film
"Grounds for Marriage" The New York Times 18 Jun 51
Movies Were Always Magical Interviews with 19 Actors, Directors and Producers from the Hollywood of the 1930s through the 1950s by Leo Verswijver
The Rotarian Mar 51
Grounds for Marriage
Kathryn Grayson and Van Johnson recreated their roles for a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast on November 10, 1952.