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A couple obtain a hotel room under the name of "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" or some other -- usually similarly bland -- pseudonym. They may be married... just not to each other.

See also Undercover As Lovers and Mr. Smith.

Examples of Smithical Marriage include:


Film

Humor

  • Referenced in an old joke, where a man signs his name with an X, hesitates and then draws a circle around it because "Sometimes a man doesn't want to use his right name!"


Literature

  • Atlas Shrugged: Hank Rearden and Dagny Taggart.
  • Caravan to Vaccares: In this Alistair MacLean novel, our hero, Neil Bowman, signs into a hotel. The clerk looks at the girl he is with and says, "And this is Mrs. xxxxx?", he replies, "Don't be silly," and they go to their room. Once there, she objects to his not signing them in as husband and wife, and he tells her to look at her hands. He then points out she isn't wearing a wedding ring and that clerks notice that.
  • In Agatha Christie's Partners In Crime stories, the (married) Spy Couple Tommy and Tuppence Beresford frequently use aliases during their investigations - partly because it's fun, and partly to prevent High Society from discovering that they do serious work. In one story, they get into a discussion of what alias to sign a hotel registry with in front of the desk clerk, who is stunned that anyone would be so open about it.
  • In M. T. Anderson's book Feed, doing this is one of Violet's dreams. Eventually she and Titus end up actually doing this for real, and it's the emotional climax of the novel when he rejects her attempts to sleep with him.
  • Subverted in The Face on the Milk Carton. The two teenage characters decide to check into a motel. The girl signs her real name [1] -- Jane Johnson -- and the clerk sarcastically says, "Big imagination, lady."
  • Played with in the novel The Wheel Spins (which became the Alfred Hitchcock film The Lady Vanishes): a group of English tourists includes a couple who introduce themselves as Mr and Mrs Todhunter; there's some speculation among the other tourists about whether they're really married, which is settled by the observation that if they were up to something they'd have picked a nondescript name like "Smith" or "Brown". It turns out that they aren't married to each other, and that they picked "Todhunter" because the man's name really is Mr Brown.
  • Subverted in Going Too Far by Catherine Alliott. When Polly goes to the hotel where she believes she spent the night with Sam, she checks the guest book, expecting that he would have signed them in under some nondescript name; but discovers he used their (separate) real names. This turns out to have been deliberate so he could create a false alibi for burglary.
  • There is a poem (told as a memoir) that mentions the speaker having to sign into a motel like this to have sex with her college boyfriend, because at the time (probably about The Fifties or early in The Sixties) they wouldn't be able to get the room despite being both consenting adults and/or it would have caused a scandal.


Live Action TV

  • In As Time Goes By, the two main characters once signed in to a hotel as Mr. and Mrs. Ambrose Smith to keep from being too obvious.
  • Twin Peaks: Nadine Hurley and her teenage boyfriend Mike.
  • An episode of The Golden Palace has Rose trying to keep a couple who's doing this from sleeping together. She finally drives them out of the hotel. The episode ends with a gay couple checking in under a variation of this.
  • In Keeping Up Appearances, Hyacinth and Richard spend a weekend at a bed and breakfast, and Hyacinth is exasperated by a loud couple in one of the rooms. She looks at the sign-in book, and sees the name of the couple: Mr and Mrs Smith. Turns out Mrs Smith is her sister, Rose.
  • In Citizen Smith, when Wolfie Smith and Ken are trying to have a dirty weekend away with their girlfriends, Wolfie books them all into a hotel as 'Mr & Mrs Smith - twice!'
  • Babylon 5: A variation occurs; this is the only way Marcus and Dr. Franklin can get fake IDs together on their way to Mars. It's Undercover As Lovers at the same time, which adds an extra layer of funny -- honeymoon suite and all.
  • In an episode of Smallville, Chloe Sullivan and Oliver Queen went on a weekend getaway and checked in a hotel as Mr and Mrs Green, which not only is a common and bland last name but also refers to Oliver's other indentity.
  • On Living Single, Khadija meets an old fling of hers and describes how they had checked into a hotel together under some sort of bizarre name, because Smith seems too easy.
  • In NCIS Tony and Ziva went undercover as a couple who were assassins.

Newspaper Comics

  • Subverted in a The Wizard of Id strip: The couple are married and named Smith, and the wife suggests using a different name because they always get sniggered at.

Radio

  • Firesign Theatre subverted this in one of their radio plays, where a single person signs in as "Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Smith"

 "Surely you can't believe I'm Mr. and Mrs. John Q Smith of Anytown, USA?" "Of course we do!"

  • One episode of The Goon Show features a Spanish hotel where every room is occupied by Señor and Señora Smith.

Theater

  • City of Angels: Mentioned in the song "You Can Always Count On Me" from this Film Noir Musical.

 I choose the type who cannot introduce the girl he's with:

There's lots of smirking motel clerks who call me "Mrs. Smith".

Webcomics

  • In the webcomic The Bare Pit, two agents check in undercover as Mark and Mary Jones.

Western Animation

  • In a classic B&W cartoon, "The Honeymoon Hotel," all the guests (animated bugs) sign the register with a rubber stamp reading "Smith." This cartoon was based on a Busby Berkeley Number from the James Cagney film Footlight Parade, where Smithical Marriages were the rule:

 We're the house detectives,

But we're puzzled with

The fact that no-one stops here

Unless their name is Smith.

  • Animaniacs: Referenced in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it verbal gag in their Disney parody short "Jokahontas," when John Smith introduces himself to Poca-Dot-as. "I'm John Smith." "Oh, I bet you tell that to all hotel clerks."
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