3 May 2010 | jdeamara
Sex before marriage ain't no sin
This is a good movie, with likable actors playing likable characters. Minna Gombell is in top form as a noisy friend, and James Dunn is quite amiable. Linda Watkins steals the show as the female lead. A pretty blonde with short, finger-waved hair, she is quite appealing and very engaging, displaying a persona both fragile and tough. She bears a passing resemblance to Helen Chandler. It's a shame she didn't make more movies in the 1930s.
What's most surprising about this film is it's frank treatment of the relationship between Watkins and Dunn, particularly their sexual relationship. Dunn and Watkins are both reporters who live in the same apartment house. He visits her each morning for breakfast over the course of a few weeks. They start to fall in love, with each contemplating marriage, though Dunn believes it wouldn't work because Watkins is too much of a "sob sister," so attached to her work that she'd miss it and would become bored if she ever married and became a housewife, a woman who'd have to quit her job and devote herself completely to taking care of the household.
Returning to the apartment house late one night after covering a story, Dunn invites Watkins to his apartment where they eventually embrace and the screen fades to black. The next scene has Watkins straightening her hair and clothes, while the noise of a shower runs in the background. She leaves Dunn a note taped to the mirror saying "no regrets."
What's even more remarkable is that the movie doesn't shy away or forget the fact that the two had sex. Through a misunderstanding, Dunn comes to believe that Watkins slept with him in order to steal material he had on a story. He calls her cheap and she's shocked that he'd think her capable of that. She slept with him out of love. It's really surprising to find a movie from this period dealing so frankly and clearly with the motivations behind a couple having sex!
The movie ends with all misunderstandings cleared up and the couple married. There seems to be no ill effects from them having had sex before marriage. Watkins is not demonized in any way because of the sex; after it occurs, she is still treated as the heroine in the picture and her character is not looked down upon whatsoever. The movie seems to imply that sex before marriage, at least between those who love each other, is OK, even inevitable, quite a forward and frank attitude for 1931, an attitude that would soon be banned from pictures for close to forty years.