Review: Norman Taurog’s “Are Husbands Necessary?,” Starring Ray Milland and Betty Field

Patricia Morison, Betty Field, and Ray Milland in
Patricia Morison, Betty Field, and Ray Milland in "Are Husbands Necessary?"

Ray Milland and Betty Field play a toxic married couple in Norman Taurog’s desolate Paramount comedy, Are Husbands Necessary? The script, by Frank Davis and Tess Slesinger, unfortunately has none of the cheekiness or proto-feminism its title might suggest—originally, it was simply titled Mr. and Mrs. Cugat, a better fit. For seventy-nine minutes the pair display terrible communication skills, a disregard for the feelings of everyone around them (including fun enough turns by Eugene Pallette, Charles Dingle, and Richard Haydn), and a truly infuriating general misunderstanding of how the world works. Perhaps viewers are supposed to see them as loveable goofballs, but the characters never come off as anything but insufferable idiots. Though it has a shot at the best title of the year, that’s the only aspect of the pitiful and sexist Are Husbands Necessary? worth commending.

Where to Watch

Check TCM Listings

For More on Are Husbands Necessary?

Read the review in The New York Times