Judy Page (Olive Borden) is a young woman in love. She lives in New York City and is having the time of her life, frequently throwing parties at her apartment. She’s fallen for Dick Carroll (Morgan Farley), a fledgling architect who works for her father’s firm and frequently attends her parties.

After some hesitation, Dick finally decides to marry Judy, even though they both know that her parents won’t approve. They head out of town and marry in secret.

(Image via Golden Age Movies)
(Image via Golden Age Movies)

Upon returning to the city, Judy and Dick are forced to spend some time apart by Judy’s mother (Hedda Hopper), who doesn’t realize that her daughter has married. Judy heads back to the family estate, where her parents supervise a courtship with Tom Stribbling (Anderson Lawler). Meanwhile, Dick stays at Judy’s apartment in New York, waiting for the situation to be resolved and for his bride to come home.

Half Marriage (1929) was directed by William J. Cowen from a screenplay by Jane Murfin. The film is based on a story by George Kibbe Turner.

This is an odd little film. It starts out quite light in story, and the love triangle set-up has a lot of comedic potential. The mood is very energetic from the beginning, and the party scenes are fun. Judy’s gang of friends is a lively bunch!

However, with such a short run time it takes a bit too long for the central conflict to come in… and when it does, the film makes a complete shift in tone. High energy and amusing dialogue (“That’s a great idea: let’s have a murder.” / “I just love murders!”) make way for some serious melodrama. The shift seems somewhat abrupt.

There’s another problem, too: the songs. There aren’t a ton of musical performances packed in, but there are a few sing-song scenes. They don’t mesh well with the rest of the film and really distract from the plot, in addition to contributing to the tone-shift problem.

On the plus side, the story certainly keeps the viewer interested, especially when things take a turn for the nutty near the end. The cast also has quite good chemistry and the performances are pretty solid.

Half Marriage is too inconsistent of a film for me to highly recommend, but it might be worth one watch thanks to the good performances and engrossing end. The score: 2/5