Professor William Moulton Marston, “Bill” to his friends, and “Charles Moulton” to his fans, was a psychologist who was fascinated with the human mind, and how it works. He also had an affinity for the female mind, but instead of driving himself insane trying to figure out how the female mind works, he simply decided to accept women for the beautiful puzzles that they are, and have always been. (Bill knew that bitches was crazy before any of us, and he just rolled with it.) To that end, Professor Marston became world-famous for inventing a machine that could detect when people weren’t telling the truth. Oh, and also for creating a character who stood for truth and justice (and bondage), known as Wonder Woman.
Professor Marston’s story was dramatized in the 2017 film Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, a movie that came out four months after Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman hit the silver screen and surpassed many people’s expectations. The ad campaign for PMatWW even tried to ride the coattails of WW‘s success, proclaiming 2017 “the year of Wonder Woman.” But hang on before you slap tiaras on your daughters and pile into the minivan to see this one. This story isn’t for kids, ‘tweens or teens. It’s R-rated for very good reasons.
The good professor, during his dreamiest years, is teaching psychology to a room full of young ladies at Radcliffe College, while his loving wife Elizabeth sits in. Bill takes a particular shine to a Miss Olive Byrne. Elizabeth insists that she’s not jealous of his interest in the nubile nymph, but we all know she’s totes jelly.
As time goes by, Olive ends up liking Liz as much as Bill likes her. And Liz, though she fights it, likes Olive right back. Since they’re all firmly ensconced in 1930s American society, Bill and Liz are all too aware that their longing for Olive is a big no-no. Bill don’t care in the least; it’s Liz who’s wrestling big-time with her head vs. her heart. The main plot is more about Liz than Bill, who waffles on the issue of polyamory, throughout the film’s runtime.
Meanwhile, people are buying two copies of every issue of Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman; one to burn in public outrage, and one to keep in their secret stash under their beds. Professor Marston is being grilled about the indecent images and themes in his Wonder Woman stories, and the prof, of course, doesn’t see anything wrong with a little tying up here and a little spanking there. (By the time Wonder Woman had gotten her very own comic book, the Comics Code Authority was in place, and they significantly dialed down the S&M, though they did let her keep the Lasso of Truth.)
Bill based the classic superheroine on both of his loves: his wife Liz, who is strong-willed, opinionated, and, to use Bill’s own words, “a grade-A bitch,” and their girlfriend Olive, who… um, looks good in a corset and tiara? Not sure what it is about Olive they find irresistible. I mean, she’s 1930s hot, but other than that, I got nothin’.
The Marstons+1 try to live out a “normal” family existence which, of course, only lasts so long before their dirty secret is exposed (Lock your doors, people). Ultimately, Bill convinces Liz to get rid of all her hangups and let love rule.
Even though Liz began to grate on my nerves long before the halfway mark, I still enjoyed this film. Send the kids out of the room, and check it out. Three and a half out of five stars.