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  • THE Divorcée was created in the first wave of "all talking pictures," an era in which directors, writers, and actors often struggled to find styles appropriate to the new technology. At the time, it was hailed as a masterpiece of realism; today, however, it is a film more often discussed than actually seen, for there is no escaping the fact that the film is stylistically dated. Even so, it remains a landmark of its era--and given its historical importance it should be seen by any one with a serious interest in the history of American cinema.

    The film is "pre-code," which is to say that it was made during a handful of years in the early 1930s when Hollywood's self-censorship was more the subject of jokes than of reality, and THE Divorcée was among the first Hollywood talkies to openly address both female sexuality and the sexual double standard. The story finds Jerry (Norma Shearer) and Ted (Chester Morris) happily married--but on their third anniversary Jerry discovers that Ted has been unfaithful, something that Ted dismisses with the words "it doesn't mean a thing." Angry and hurt, Jerry responds by having a one night stand of her own--and then is astonished by Ted's hypocrisy when he declares that her infidelity "isn't the same thing." The same story has been told so often that today we take it for granted, but in 1930 it was extremely controversial, and the cast plays it out with considerable intensity. Most notable is star Norma Shearer; although changing styles have left her sadly neglected, in her own era she was considered among the finest actresses on the screen and noted for her unusual beauty, memorable speaking voice, and tremendous star quality. In THE Divorcée she gives it everything she has, and her power is such that most viewers will find she quickly transcends the stylistically dated aspects of both the film and her own performance.

    Over the years I've seen the film several times--most impressively on the big screen, where the larger than life performances seem considerably less affected--and I've enjoyed it quite a bit every time. If you are interested in exploring early 1930s Hollywood films, you could do considerably worse than to begin with THE Divorcée, which was my own introduction to that film era. If you are already interested in early 1930s film and have never seen it... this one belongs on your shelf, and no excuses.

    Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT
  • Warning: Spoilers
    SPOILERS The Divorcee takes a hard look at the double standard. This is one of my personal favorite films of the Pre-Code Era because it's exactly the kind of film that the Code guarded against. Norma Shearer's character is extremely strong-willed and essentially proposes to her boyfriend at the beginning of the film. Later on she finds out her husband has cheated on her, and she does the only thing she could think of to do: she "balances their accounts." Ted cannot handle being cheated on himself and when she states plainly what she has done he asks her for divorce. Throughout the rest of the film though they both regret not being together, it is Ted who dips the lowest, becoming too drunk to even go to work. Jerry is still strong (sad that it had to end the way it did, but strong) and has many exploits with various men, but she knows she still loves Ted. In the end it is Ted who needs Jerry the most, and they end up back together on New Year's. The moral of this story is not that the married couple gets back together where it should be-- the moral of this story is that no double standard should ever exist. A woman is not going to sit idly by while her man cheats on her, nor should she. A man has to realize that he cannot ask for forgiveness if he is not willing to forgive the same act. That is why this film defines Pre-Code in my mind-- Jerry states at the beginning that they'll have a go at it only if they are equals. She finds out that she is not his equal-- she is the better man. This movie would not only never have been made after the Code was enforced (due to the adultery, allusions to sex, and the strong female protagonist)-- I don't think it would be made now. What a great female protagonist-- Shearer is magnificent (as she usually is). Chester Morris is great and Robert Montgomery is the fun-loving best friend, who acts as an organ- grinder's monkey at one point-- just delightful! Needless to say I recommend this movie to anyone and everyone!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    One of the many productions to tackle issues later forbidden by the Hays Code, THE Divorcée is a completely modern account about a marriage gone bad due to the infidelities and debaucheries of not only the man, but the woman. That the woman in question was none other than Norma Shearer in a very risky move which paid off and gave her the Oscar for Best Actress proves the mettle in Shearer, but also proved the implicit involvement of Irving Thalberg.

    Like early talkies, there is a tinny, flat quality to the sound which lessens some of the emotional impact from the movie, and the way these people talk is a little too rapid at times, with an emphasis in staging every sentence with meaning -- a holdover from the silent movie days. Harsh lighting doesn't help, as some of the cuts between scenes and dissolves which indicate either the passing of time (and their debauchery) and Jerry's liaisons with other men, shown awkwardly in close-ups of their hands and off-screen dialog.

    This is a movie to view as a study of American culture at the very end of the Roaring Twenties when women were assuredly emancipating their position in society, but there isn't a dated bone in this story's body: women even today are still punished in many societies, including ours, if they decide to take matters into their own hands, a point THE Divorcée makes very well. The only segment in which it falters is right at the end, when Jerry decides she loves Ted after all and would like to renew their marriage: on seeing their brittle relationship, it somehow comes off false although Shearer's performance and the way her character is written does not make it so. However, her choice to be happily married over being a swinging baby comes off as a reflection of not only women but people even today, and in that way, this film is a great example.

    Shearer gave much better performances than the one she was awarded for; however, it's up to the viewer to decide if hers Oscar-worthy. Considering her competition, it must have been tight.
  • The Divorcée, set in 1930 New York, profiles a pair of party-making revelers amidst an entire circle of friends in high society. . .before and after they dare to turn their lives over to the institution of marriage, which in this world of around the clock carousing is a far cry from what is expected of them by their partying circle of friends. Norma Shearer, in what truly is one of the silver screen's great performances, plays the creatively witty and sweetly charming high society gal Jerry Martin. She can have any man in the group, but chooses Ted. They are married, and enter into an enduring period of romantic fairytale bliss (3 Years). Then, on the eve of their 3rd wedding anniversary everything unravels in a sea of infidelity, bitter honesty, and emotion. Norma Shearer's performance completely enraptures, and in an honest portrayal of ensuing emotional fallout, we see the inner struggles of the modern enlightened woman of her time. Robert Mongomery, in a supporting role, shines as well as the veritable proprietor of the circle of friends and one of the reveling agents of promiscuous redress. The film's direction is interesting, the makeup slightly absurd (it is 1930), and the cinematography non-existent. . .yet Ms Shearer's riveting abilities entrance the audience, and more than carry the day.
  • kscmtgrove30 September 2006
    The scene where Norma Shearer begs Chester Morris to stay together in their marriage is truly riveting and powerful . It is one of the most truly amazing performances on film. I remember being so genuinely blown away by the beauty and power of that performance that I jumped out of my chair to grab the rental box positive she must have won an Oscar, she had. Very sexy movie, Robert Montgomery is smooth as always. I see some people found it hokey or contrived, I did not, The emotions covered here are as relevant today as in 1930. Attractive, complex characters. For the romantic in all of us, where decency and honor will prevail.
  • A vivacious and happily married young woman discovers that her husband has been unfaithful. Embittered, she embarks on a brief affair of her own. Her marriage soon over, THE DIVORCEE quickly enters a downward spiral of escalating sexual promiscuity. How can she ever regain her husband & the happiness they once knew?

    Norma Shearer won the Best Actress Oscar for her performance in this well-acted soap opera. Running the range of emotions, she is ably backed up by Chester Morris, Conrad Nagel & Robert Montgomery as the three very different men in her life. (Montgomery exhibits the sophisticated charm which quite shortly would make him one of the biggest stars at MGM.) Zelda Sears, a top writer at the Studio, has the role of Hannah the maid - and she gets some of the best lines.

    The very elastic morality of the plot shows the pre-Production Code status of the film, while, oddly, the twin beds in the bedroom of Shearer & Morris point out that not all the restrictions of the initial Hays period had completely died away.

    In 1930, talkies were still in their infancy in Hollywood & audio awkwardness was common in many studio's output. At MGM, Norma Shearer's brother Douglas was Recording Director and his department learned their new lessons quickly. Look at the opening scene in THE DIVORCEE, set in the large living room of a mountain lodge. Notice the action & dialogue going on at various levels - with the radio playing `Singing In The Rain' in the background - and it's easy to see that MGM had mastered the mysteries of the microphone.
  • Not only did Norma Shearer win an Academy Award for her performance, but the film itself was nominated for best picture of that year. Not "politically correct" by today's standards, Shearer still is defiant when she learns that her husband has been untrue and fights the "double standard" of morality codes between men and women.
  • The Divorcée (1930)

    The start of this is such a busy, overlapping party scene in a country house, you can't help but get swept up in it. And if some of the acting or a few of the quips are not perfect, the best moments are really fun and spirited. The naturalism is really refreshing, and pace fast, and the dialog real. Then it spins out of control--the events, not the movie--and before fifteen minutes are up, there's a brief terrible moment that has two or three of the actors exploring an hysteria that a method actor would be proud of. It's intense, great stuff. Get at least that far in.

    The rest of the movie follows suit, through quiet and fast moments, and the drama turns to melodrama and back, all pinned together by the ever convincing Norma Shearer. The themes--fidelity and infidelity, love and friendship, the superficial versus the things that matter--give it all something to chew on or laugh at at ever turn.

    It's unnecessary to say that this is just two years after the full advent of sound, and it's a very developed, mature element in the movies. In fact, the density of things going on would never have been possible with intertitles, and it must have been a revelation to audiences and movie makers equally. Fast dialog and overlapping events are a natural extension of the theater, of course, but with the ability to shift scenes and zip down wooded roads with the camera is the essence of cinema.

    So, in all, for how it's made, for the acting (the best of it), and for the serious, important themes, this is gem, an amazing movie, whatever its hiccups and flaws here and there. I wouldn't miss it.
  • OK, it's in black and white and if you're used to computer animation and pyrotechnics, it'll seem "different." I thought it was sensitive and insightful and mirrored some of real life's difficult lessons. I thought it moved quickly and was very engaging. The fact that it was made in 1930 and was still as good as it is is a testimony to the screenplay and the underlying themes. If you like any variety of chick-flicks, you'll like this movie. If you have any interest in relationships, you'll like this movie. If you watch the movie and you don't like it because it's not in color, there are no special effects, etc. then you need to get used to these old movies. Some of them are fabulous, and this is one of them. I shouldn't focus on the dating of it, but I enjoy considering the fact that this was made in 1930. This is 2005 and things haven't changed much, if at all.

    By the way, the acting was very good.
  • The Divorcée has much more to offer than the melodramatic plot may insinuate. Sparkling performances aside (including Norma Shearer's Oscar-winning turn), the film is full of witty dialogue, risqué subject matter, and a serious, adult look at divorce, not seen again for decades. The film not only showcases the largely-forgotten Shearer beautifully, an actress who continually pushed subject matter and fought for strong roles, but proves itself as a pivotal 1930's Hollywood product. The Divorcée is appreciable as a pre-code, and worth seeing for its unusually bold themes alone, but its surprising and often heartbreaking plot makes it an unusual gem.
  • This picture redeems Ms. Shearer's supposed reliance on her husband Irving Thalberg's influence to get her and keep her in good roles. She emotes, she sparkles, she holds your attention throughout this picture and brings life to what might have been just another early talkie pot-boiler.

    Some of the dialogue and sound are a little clumsy, probably due to lack of technique in the early talkie era. One can almost sense the hidden microphones on the set!

    Conrad Nagel is great in this too.

    Worth seeing at least once!
  • The dramas of the early sound era were often awkward, phoney-looking things. A lot of this has to do with the acting. Most actors were of course experienced in silent cinema, but a lot of players with stage experience had also been brought in as was deemed appropriate for "talkies". Silent screen acting tended to be over-the-top so that meaning could be expressed without words, and stage acting also tended to be over-the-top so that meaning could be expressed to people sitting in the back row. But this excessive style didn't really work in the more authentic setting of sound cinema. Of course, movie people weren't stupid; they were aware of what did and didn't work and the industry adapted quicker than is sometimes thought.

    And of course, there were some actors and actresses who simply seemed to get the hang of it straight away. Norma Shearer was among a small number who survived the transition from silents to talkies with her career completely intact. One thing Shearer had was a remarkable presence – she's able to project herself with just a simple gesture or pose, and in The Divorcée she's often standing with her shoulders slightly forward in understated aggression. And within this context she is able to give a restrained performance, conveying a great deal but with a degree of credibility that makes the drama seem more believable. Shearer deservedly won the Academy Award for her work here. Compare her to previous year's winner Mary Pickford in Coquette, a slice of ham from a bygone era, and you can see how much things have changed.

    Let's also take a look at the director Robert Z. Leonard. He's not too well remembered these days because he isn't deemed an auteur, but at the time he was among the forefront of Hollywood professionals. Two things in particular are worth noting about his style in The Divorcée. First is that he uses a lot of camera movement to really engage us in a scene (who says early sound films were static?), often using a noteworthy pan as a character appears. Secondly, he gives us an awful lot of the interplay between characters in simple wordless glances between them, for example the jealous look of Conrad Nagel when Shearer and Chester Morris announce their betrothal, or later a silent, spiteful exchange between Shearer and Mary Doran. There was a temptation for talkie directors to shoot things before the assembled actors as if for a stage play, but here Leonard is making subtle close-ups that cut across the action, and in so doing giving depth to the story outside of the dialogue.

    This picture is now often classified as a "pre-code" movie for its depiction of Shearer's promiscuity after she becomes the titular divorcée, although even by the standards of the day it's pretty tame. However, thanks to its fluid direction and naturalistic acting, it is nevertheless a movie that seems a few steps ahead of its time, and points towards the increasingly sophisticated sound cinema of the 1930s.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is a very dated soap opera but I wanted to see it because I often like classic films and I've never actually sat through one that starred Norma Shearer.

    Was Norma Shearer a sexy woman? I found her just okay, nothing special. At times she's attractive; other times not so. She giggles in here a lot and - like Jean Harlow - likes slinky dresses.

    The dialog in most "talkies" up until the later 1930s is very dated, especially in the "Pre-Code Era." Actually, I find it fun to hear these odd expressions of the day, but all the "darling" this and "darling" that get a little nauseating after a short time and the corny lines, hysterical women, sexist men, etc., wear thin fast.

    In essence, this was a woman's movie with the message that it's NOT all right for a man to cheat on her husband but bad if a woman does. I buy that. As you all know, it's bad if either does! That's the only problem. This idiot husband, played by Chester Morris, makes an absolute ton of stupid remarks after admitting he had an affair with "Janice" and that "it doesn't mean a thing."

    However, that same night after he shuffles off to Buffalo for a work assignment, she hits the sack (not shown) with a buddy. Two wrongs make a right? Of course not, but Shearer's character "Jerry" and her response to the whole thing is interesting to watch. And, yes, she slowly sees the error of her ways and "repents" at the end. That ending may be predictable, but it will still draw a tear or two to your eyes.

    The film gets really sudsy the last half, especially in the last hour. I thought, "Wow, this would play well on the Lifetime Network - what a women's soaper." So, if you like that sort of thing - nothing but men and women in and out of all kinds of relationships and talking about them - then this film, dated or not, is for you.
  • jp7100612 February 2001
    I was thoroughly entertained by this movie. I had never heard of Norma Shearer before watching this classic, but I was impressed by her acting and was not surprised that she won an academy award for her performance.

    The sound quality on the video was not good but 'talkies' were still relatively new in 1930.
  • 101: The Divorcée (1930) - released 4/19/1930, viewed 6/20/08.

    DOUG: Only a film of the Pre-Code era could tackle a divorce in such detail, and have the wife be the protagonist in the story. It's hard to appreciate the edginess of this film today, but back then, a movie about an ex-wife getting back at her former cheating husband by matching his every infidelity was quite the coup. Even today, showing a woman taking matters into her own hands is a tricky business. Norma Shearer (a fine actress mostly forgotten today) took her career in a different direction with this movie; after several years of playing clean-cut women, she wanted something a little more provocative, and went to great lengths to prove to her producer/husband Irving Thalberg that this was the role for her. Shearer plays Jerry as strong-willed and independent, a woman who conforms to the system until it betrays her, then fights against it. Chester Morris plays her fiancée-turned-husband-turned-ex Ted, and Robert Montgomery (who would star opposite Shearer in many more films after this) plays Jerry's old friend Don who catches her on the rebound. Overall, this is a nice little look at Pre-Code and early sound, and a nice showcase for Oscar-winner Shearer.

    KEVIN: I was surprised by The Divorceé, not just because it's one of the tamer and less cynical pre-Code movies, but also because it holds up as a compelling drama. At no point was I able to guess which man Jerry (Norma Shearer) would be with at the end. Paul (Conrad Nagel) probably had the worst chances since he was already married (although in a fine twist, he thinks he has the best chance). The scene where Jerry convinces him otherwise was my favorite scene and really showed Jerry to be not just the protagonist but the hero of the story. I liked that the story didn't seem to take sides with Jerry or Ted (Chester Morris), and treated their plights very fairly, even though the focus was primarily on Jerry. I was a little annoyed that we don't really see what leads Ted to his affair (sure Janice is smokin', but so is Jerry), but we see every heartbreaking step in Jerry's path to infidelity (except the actual getting naked, of course). Although it is in all ways Jerry's story, I think more could've been done with Ted. Still, Chester Morris' performance does an excellent job of making Ted sympathetic, even when he's done wrong. Norma Shearer's Oscar-winning performance has aged well. Most of the awards in those days went to performances that today would be considered hammy, but Shearer brings just the right amount of weight to the character and shows her disillusionment from love found to lost to found to lost to found again.

    Last film viewed: The Love Parade (1929). Last film chronologically: The Blue Angel (1930). Next film viewed: Monte Carlo (1930). Next film chronologically: All Quiet on the Western Front (1930).
  • The only character that seems at all stiff in this movie is Chester Morris. He seems very defiant when caught at his cheating and refuses to be repentant which was the only untrue note in this movie. Otherwise a very interesting movie of morals and the payments you make when you falter.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I just rewatched this one last night. This 1930 MGM film tells the story of a happily married couple, whose marriage crumbles under the taint of infidelity.

    Norma Shearer portrayed Jerry Martin, a happily married New York socialite, who discovers that her husband, Ted (Chester Morris), had a drunken one night stand with some blowsy woman. She tried to pretend that it was water under the bridge and openly forgave him. But his infidelity continued to bother her. And when he leaves New York for a business trip to Chicago, she has a one night stand with his best friend, Don (Robert Montgomery). Jerry confesses her infidelity and discovers that as far as Ted is concerned, what was good for the goose, was not for the gander. Furthermore, Ted is not so concerned about the pain of the infidelity as he is about his pride and that someone in "their set" is laughing at him. This is the last straw for Jerry, and a divorce follows with what must be a pile of alimony because Jerry seems to lack no luxury even though she lacks a job. Not bad work for a fairly short marriage.

    I understand that the Jerry Martin role nearly evaded Norma Shearer, because husband and MGM production chief Irving Thalberg did not feel that the role suited her. She used a series of sexy photographs taken by George Hurrell to convince Thalberg that she could do the role. And she certainly proved that she was the right woman for the role. What I liked about Shearer's take on Jerry was that she was a complex woman who discovered that she could not hide her feelings - whether she was disturbed by her husband's infidelity and hypocrisy; or her longing to reconcile with him, despite enjoying the company of other men. Shearer certainly deserved her Oscar.

    Although he had some moments of over-the-top acting as Ted Martin - Jerry's husband, Chester Morris did a pretty good job portraying the newspaper man, who tried to dismiss his own infidelity and discovered how his wife truly felt in the worst possible way. What I found interesting about Ted is how alcohol led to a great deal of his troubles. It was booze that encouraged him to cheat on Jerry. And it was booze that he indulged in following the breakup of his marriage and loss of his job.

    Robert Montgomery was at turns rather funny and sexy as Don, Ted's best friend with whom she cheated. There's a funny midnight scene in a deli where everybody is in top hat and tails, and Ted is talking to Don about how he would still like to kill the guy that broke up his home, if only he knew who that was. Don makes a polite but speedy exit.

    Many have dismissed Conrad Nagel as a boring actor, who performance in the movie was not worth mentioning. Mind you, his role as Paul, Jerry's former boyfriend was not as splashy as Morris or Montgomery's role, Nagel still managed to invest quite a bit of angst in his role as a man who is dealt a double blow in life when the woman he loves (Jerry) marries another man and he finds himself in a loveless marriage to a woman (Judith Wood), whose face he had disfigured due to a drunken car accident.

    The attitudes and personalities of most of the major characters seemed relevant today. Despite the late 20s/early 30s wardrobe and slang, the so-called "Bright Young Things" were not really different from the Twenty and Thirtysomethings in the dating scene, today. Do remember,also, that though this film was post stock market crash, that it was still pre Depression. Things were still rolling pretty good for most people at this point.

    I realized that the movie had a "happy ending" that many modern viewers might not care for. But for me, it was an ending in which both husband and wife were humbled. They not only forgave each other, but forgave themselves. I bought it.
  • bkoganbing23 November 2007
    In the years following The Divorcée, Norma Shearer was nominated for Best Actress for A Free Soul, The Barretts of Wimpole Street, Romeo and Juliet and Marie Antoinette. Personally I think all of those films were better than The Divorcée. Still this is the one she took home the gold for.

    The Divorcée is a rather dated drama about an upper crust set of men and women who basically wife swap. The leader of this social set is Norma Shearer who gets around to all the available men in the cast and some not available. Not that her husband Chester Morris is letting the grass grow under his feet either. The film's action starts during the age of the high living Roaring Twenties with all that implies.

    The three men in Norma's life are Morris, Robert Montgomery, and Conrad Nagel and there are hints of others being there as well after Norma divorces Morris. Florence Eldridge in one of her few films without her husband Fredric March plays her best friend and Helen Johnson plays the tragic wife of Conrad Nagel who only marries her after she's disfigured in a DWI that Nagel had after Shearer jilts him early on in the film.

    All of them are quite good, but the film is really Norma's show. She runs through quite the gamut of emotions and the technical virtuosity of her performance is what got her the Oscar. That and the fact she was married to one of the most powerful moguls in Hollywood certainly helped.

    There's a quite good performance by Tyler Brooke as the perpetually inebriated hanger on with their set. For a slice of life from The Roaring Twenties I'd look at The Divorcée.
  • Seventy some years after the release of The Divorcée movies need to once again explore the idea of double standards. In the 30s there obviously existed a double standard that taught it was different or somehow o.k. for men to cheat on their wives but not right for wives to cheat on their hubbies.

    Today, the situation is reversed. In chick flick after chick flick we are treated to married women finding relief( both sexually and emotionally)in the arms of a man other than their husband. This of course is often shown as romantic and, in fact, is often billed as a great romance story.

    Really? I doubt if a move like The Divorcée would be re released today, simply because, now, it is so widely accepted that adultery, for women, is therapeutic or liberating that no one would seriously accept that any man would think it is right for him to have a little on the side and that his wife should not.

    The basic premise of many chick flicks is that if the husband is __________(fill in the blank with any one of hundreds of acceptable male put downs...too boring, too nice, too caught up with the kids, too tired...)the only possible romantic response is to shag your doctor or a sexy Greek tavern owner or a dance instructor or...the list is long, if not predictable.

    So no there will be no remake of The Divorcée given the double standards that prevail today: adultery bad for men, good for women.
  • The book "Complicated Women: Sex and Power in Pre-Code Hollywood" by Mick LaSalle makes a big deal about this movie as being an affirmation of the sexually liberated modern woman. His emphasis is misplaced. This movie is really not that daring. However innovative it might seem in terms of the sexual mores of women, this is only superficial. Ultimately the movie serves to reaffirm the old values of marital fidelity.

    The movie concerns the wide "latitude of the male perspective" that says affairs in marriage "don't mean a thing" and can be kept from the wife, and whether a modern woman can adopt this perspective. After finding out her hubby Ted (Chester Morris) has had an affair, Norma Shearer's character Jerry tries to, out of anger, by sleeping with his best friend (Robert Montgomery). However, she comes to reject these ideas. She can't help but tell Ted of her affair the moment he gets back from a trip, and expresses regret. When Ted asks for the fellow's name, Jerry mockingly says, "Oh don't be so conventional!" in a great line delivery by Norma Shearer. Ted is though, and ends up divorcing her.

    Despite the divorce, Jerry can't bring herself to adopt the male perspective of looseness when it comes to sex. There's scene after scene of Jerry stopping cold suitors who want to have sex (done through close-ups of their hands, interestingly enough). She does try to act the part of the vamp, but it's out of self-loathing, not because she has accepted the idea of sexual freedom. Furthermore, it's made clear that it's only acting; Jerry never really follows through by sleeping with dozens of men. In any event, the movie ends conventionally, with Jerry reprimanding herself for giving up on her marriage so easily and running off to find her ex-husband hoping he will give her another chance.

    The message is clear: a previously innocent woman trying to act like a freewheeling man sexually is wrong. What gives the movie a superficial sense of daring though is some of the dialogue that Jerry says. But again, most of it is said in anger and self-loathing, and never truly acted on.

    Another theme of the movie is that of superficial friendship and the negative effect that friends can have. It is the fear of being laughed at by friends that causes Ted to divorce Jerry in the first place. Particularly loathsome is the character of Helen, a true bitch if there ever was one (played beautifully by Florence Eldridge). She casually brings along the woman that Ted had an affair with to Ted and Jerry's 3rd anniversary party knowing full well who she is. When, at the end of the movie, there's a possibility that Jerry might move on and marry an old chum (Conrad Nagel), Helen doesn't miss a beat by telling her how miserable Ted is and how still in love with her she is. Her motivation for doing all this seems to be simply that it's fun. With friends like these...

    All in all, this is a good movie. It's definitely Pre-Code, with its moments of risque dialogue, like Ted actually telling Jerry, "I would like to make love to you until you scream!" and Jerry responding, "I can't scream!" The performances are also fine. That of Norma varies, from excellent understatement and bewilderment in the scenes where she reveals her affair to Jerry, to silly overacting in the scenes on the train with Jerry as a self-loathing vamp, but she does do a good job. Note that the dialogue is a bit tough to hear in places, not surprising with it being an early talkie. Overall, I'd rate this movie as a 7/10, based on performances and the frank early presentation of the subject matter.
  • Undaunted by the new technology of sound, Norma Shearer acts up a storm in this pre-code "women's film" about a society woman whose husband goes philandering, and decides to retaliate by doing some philandering of her own.

    The philandering husband is played by Chester Morris, while Robert Montgomery plays his best friend and Shearer's fling. The movie points to the hypocrisy in marital expectations that expects wives to look the other way when their boys are being boys, but entitles husbands to toss their wives aside when they do the same. Everything of course ties up nicely and happily for the couple, and in a way that would never happen in real life. But it's a lot more frank and honest than countless films on the same topic that would be released over the succeeding decade, when the production code wouldn't let filmmakers even acknowledge the existence of things like affairs and divorce.

    Shearer won her Academy Award for this film, and just try to take your eyes off of her whenever she's on screen.

    Grade: A-
  • Warning: Spoilers
    To see and think about this movie, you have to consider "The Women" in the same context. Husband has affair. Wife finds out and cannot stand the thought. Although there is no wife's affair in The Women, that is one difference. The married couple get divorced. Others get married. Robert Montgomery's character turns out to be a cowardly heal. The second difference is that Shearer's character in this goes out and parties hard, while in The Women, she is dating another (unseen) man who wants to marry her. But in the end, they both turn out about the same way. With the divorced couple back together, but not yet officially reconciled or remarried.

    The ending actually reverses the idea of the movie that women should treat marriage and men the same way unfaithful husbands treat wives.
  • Super-slick soaper, the kind that big budget MGM could do to a "T". Poor Jerry (or should it be a feminized "Geri"). Her love life goes through a tangle from adoring husband to broken marriage to loose living among NY's upper crust. For example, there's drunken Paul who screws up Dorothy's life by parking their car on a cliff's bottom. Then there's hubby Ted who strays in a weak moment, and even Jerry herself who strays in return. And catch charming Don patiently waiting his turn. So will Jerry ever find the happiness that comes from finding an inner self.

    The limelight's on Shearer the whole way. Happily, she delivers without getting too sappy, always a pitfall for this type role. The wardrobe department gets a real workout, upholstering NY's elite in the latest fashionable rags. And catch the boisterous nightclub scenes, a welcome counterpoint to all the gab. Too bad that I was hoping for more nightclub bands and the fun stylings of the day. But no luck. On the coin's flip side, producer Thalberg spared no expense doing right by his lady-love. Plus, Shearer gets to run the emotional gamut all the way to an Oscar statuette. Of course, no one will get brain drain from escapist material like this. Still, the 80-some minutes amounts to soap opera at it's most watchable, even for this Hopalong Cassidy-loving geezer.
  • An intelligent, adult comedy-drama about men, women, marriage, double standards, and forgiveness. Thanks to the writing (often sophisticated), the direction (quite accomplished for a 1930 movie) and a first-rate cast, these characters, their feelings, their problems remain contemporary and relatable nearly 90 years later. *** out of 4.
  • On the thirties had a lot of productions like that maybe for transition over Silent to talkies movies,they grasping the opportunity to offer more dialogues which weren't able on silent movies,but somehow it were enough as can proves this picture,there's no soul,just a silly drama,very usual....Just Norma Shearer is worthy to see,all cast is moving around her,Morris is a UGLY actor with a flattened nose....


    First watch: 2018 / How many: 1 / Source: DVD / Rating: 6
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