28 April 2015 | MartinHafer
What IS the message to this film?!
"Paris Bound" is clearly a Pre-code film with its strange moral sensibilities and it probably will shock most viewers today. However, I also found that the film's message was bizarre and confusing to say the least.
When the film begins, Jim (Frederic March and Mary (Ann Harding in her first film) are getting married. On the day of the wedding, Mary has a strange talk with Jim--almost like she is suggesting an open marriage where each can sleep with whomever they like. Later, it seems more like she really, perhaps, intended to say they both could have their own lives and friends of the opposite sex...which is, practically speaking, an invitation to have an open marriage. Well, Jim is the nice and dutiful husband...for a few years. Unfortunately, Nora is a real 'modern girl' and offers to become his mistress.
In the meantime, you see some weird interludes with Jim's parents. They are divorced and the father blames it all on his wife! He admits to having had affairs but that, to him, seems hardly a reason to end the marriage as these ladies meant nothing to him(??). So, SHE is painted as the unreasonable person. Later, this man advises Mary to take his attitude...and when Mary learns that Jim might have a mistress, she ponders sleeping with her best friend, a man she often hangs out with when Jim is off on business trips.
Does all this sound odd and confusing? Well, wait until you see the ending...and then you'll most likely wonder what the film was all about and what messages it was trying to convey. I know that it's NOT a great film if you want to give newlyweds some healthy marital advice!
So is it any good? Well, I think Harding sometime overacted. March was fine even if his character seemed detestable. Overall, however, the film came off as a bit stagy and unsatisfying. It's also the sort of amoral film that the studios would abandon once the new Production Code was put into effect in mid-1934.