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  • Warning: Spoilers
    Some would say the plot of "Unfaithful" is a bit cliché, but when it was released it probably was not as much so. Lady Fay Kilkerry (Chatterton) must sacrifice herself for someone she loves by staying married to a caddish nobleman, while she is desperately in love with a struggling artist.

    Really, the plot itself is not the main reason to see this picture. "Unfaithful" is an excellent example of pre-code cinema. Chatterton shows a lot of leg and the innuendos are endless. Although not quite as racy as "Female," "Unfaithful" manages to provide a realistic look at adultery without sugar coating the issue.

    Chatterton also has a wonderful song. She sings a sensual cabaret tune with a guttural African American accent at times, then mixes in her very proper English brogue. To me, Chatterton's singing, while not technically masterful, is always fun, reminiscent of Ginger Rodgers.

    Good luck tracking the film down, but if you're a fan of Chatterton or Pre-code cinema, it's worth the search. Fortunately, the print that is circulating among collectors is quite decent.
  • American heiress Ruth Chatterton (as Fay Houston) marries likewise wealthy Englishman Paul Cavanaugh (as Ronald "Ronnie" Kilkerry). The marriage seems like a match made in societal Heaven, but not after Ms. Chatterton discovers Mr. Cavanaugh isn't willing to give up his long-term mistress, Juliette Compton (as Gemma). Since her husband's lover is also the wife of her beloved brother, Chatterton is forced to keep mum about the affair. She's afraid already unstable brother Donald Cook (as Terrence "Terry" Houston) might go off the deep end. So, Chatterton becomes a gossiped-about party girl. In Paris, she meets lonely Paul Lukas (as Carl Heiden), a struggling artist. Will Chatterton become "Unfaithful" too?

    Later, a tragedy brings many truths into the open…

    "Unfaithful" is witty in spots - we learn, for example, that Chatterton's husband is the second most popular man in England, after Maurice Chevalier - but, the film is not much more than an opportunity for its star to model the latest fashions, while acting out its targeted audience's fantasy. There are times when you can almost - but not quite - hear directions for her to turn and pose for the camera. With the exception of her matronly wedding dress, Chatterton looks fine.

    **** Unfaithful (3/14/31) John Cromwell ~ Ruth Chatterton, Paul Lukas, Paul Cavanaugh, Donald Cook
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I'm going to spoil this film pretty much completely, because watching this is not the same as hearing the story, mainly because of the talented Ruth Chatterton who was so good at playing a suffering woman as well as a free spirit, and here she plays both pretty much simultaneously.

    Ruth plays Lady Fay Kilkerry, who marries Ronald Kilkerry (Paul Cavanagh) at the beginning of the film. They have a happy honeymoon and everybody just loves "Ronnie" - he's a war hero and such a fine fellow...except he isn't. Which is what Fay finds out when she follows Ronnie one day and sees his car parked in front of a large house when he's supposed to be elsewhere. She finds out the big house is largely empty except for Ronnie and his paramour whenever they are seeing one another, and Fay also finds a framed picture of Ronnie and a smaller picture of "their crowd". She finds all of this out by talking to the servants and by finding Ronnie's lost cigarette case inside. Aside - it must be nice to be able to afford to maintain a 7K square foot mansion year round for the occasional illicit rendezvous in the midst of a global depression, n'est-ce pas??

    Fay confronts Ronnie, he laughs it off, and Fay tells him that adultery may be OK in his crowd, but she wants a divorce. In England at the time adultery was the only grounds for divorce, and you must name the party in the adultery as part of the proceedings. Ronnie does the work for her - the woman is Gemma, her brother's wife. Fay's brother tried to commit suicide when Gemma tried to break their engagement, so if he finds out his wife is cheating on him, Fay figures on a repeat performance.

    Fay's solution is bizarre. She'll keep her mouth shut about Ronnie and Gemma, but she begins going around demonstrating outrageous behavior - drinking, carousing with all kinds of men but not actually sleeping with them, and even belting out a torch song while wearing a revealing outfit when "the crowd" gets together. So everyone thinks - "poor Ronnie, such a fine fellow, yet he has such a rotten wife". Ronnie eats this sympathy up. In fact he seems to take pride in turning Fay into an object of ridicule and scorn. I could never figure out what was in this for Fay.

    And then a poor artist comes along - Paul Lukas as Colin Graham. For all his talk about not having money he seems to always dress for the occasion and has some very elegant digs to boot. He is repulsed by Fay's behavior yet attracted to Fay at the same time, and they begin to spend time together. He finds she's not a derelict at all but a witty charming woman and he begins to fall for her. So how can this work out? A woman who wants to marry her poor artist friend, but she's already permanently married to an unfaithful husband from whom she cannot free herself without destroying her brother's marriage (sham though it is) and probably her brother in the process. Watch and find out. It is time well spent.
  • AAdaSC27 April 2019
    Ruth Chatterton (Fay) marries everybody's favourite high society hero Paul Cavanagh (Ronnie). As charming as he is, however, he is also pretty adept at deception. Chatterton realizes that all is not as it seems when it comes to marital fidelity. What she does as a reaction to her discovery is totally bizarre but it's done in good faith to protect her emotionally unstable brother Donald Cook (Terry). What I like about pre-code films is that you can end them how you like. Will the truth be revealed?

    Well, I didn't expect that ending. I think there is quite a lot of plot that unravels during this film. It is a soap opera story that manages some complicated plot twists during its short running time. The problem is that the male characters are difficult to differentiate at the film's beginning, it's slow to get going and the storyline is just complete nonsense. The line deliveries of Ruth Chatterton and Donald Cook are way over the top - spoken as if acting in the case of Chatterton and as if trying to act in the case of Cook. I'm afraid that people have just never spoken like that in reality.

    It's funny when you look back on the fashion styles of the time. Those pencil moustaches and slicked back hair just make all men look the same. It's similar to women who tie their hair back taught against their foreheads into a ponytail (the Essex facelift) - you all look the same as each other!
  • The plot and title for this film, "Unfaithful", is clearly the sort of thing that was very popular in the Pre-Code era, a time in filmmaking when all sorts of adult topics were the rage. In this case, the story is about adultery and an open marriage....pretty adult stuff indeed!

    When the story begins, Fay (Ruth Chatterton) marries a rich British man and she's deliriously happy. However, she soon discovers that her husband has a mistress....and he has no intention of giving her up. So, Fay decides to stay married but to also live a gay lifestyle...with lots of men and excitement. Soon she meets an artist, Carl (Paul Lukas), and the two fall in love. He wants to marry her. She, oddly, wishes to remain married and carry on an affair of her own. When he doesn't agree, she dives into the wild life with both feet...all in an effort to upset her husband's stuff friends and to distract herself from a bum marriage.

    So is it any good? Well, not particularly. The worst part is hearing Chatterton sing...it almost made me want to loud out loud AND hit fast forward! As far as the story goes, it was okay but had one major problem...I didn't care about anyone. Additionally, it's never at all apparent why Lukas' character falls in love. Otherwise, it's watchable and a decent enough time-passer.