Is He Cheating? A 1950s Guide

‘Who were you really with? That little blonde secretary from the office?’

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Based on the book Marriage for Moderns by Henry A. Bowman comes Jealousy, a dramatization of the origin and nature of a wife’s distrust in 1954, courtesy of the Prelinger Archive. Similar to a (poorly directed) episode of Mad Men, the film features a woman, Sally, waiting at home for her husband, Don, to return from work. When he finally arrives, Sally berates him for lying and cheating on her with a woman named Lorraine Casey, the local beauty shop owner. Don patiently denies the accusations, but when Sally becomes increasingly agitated, he storms out. She subsequently follows him to a diner, where, lo and behold, he is with Lorraine Casey. However, the two are merely discussing a business venture -- much to Sally’s relief.

Shot in a film-noir style, the film offers a rare glimpse into 1950s marital psychology, with the woman as the subject of the case study. Sally’s insecurity stems from feelings of loneliness and abandonment. She realizes that she might have projected her own desires for an extramarital affair onto Don. Despite acknowledging that he “does tend to get involved in his ideas and forget about [her],” she wants him to remain “just as he is.”

For more from the Prelinger Archive, visit their site

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Alessandra Ram is a former writer and producer for The Atlantic Video Channel. Her work has also appeared in Foreign Policy.

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