Movie Mirrors Index


(1934 b 93')

En: 6 Ed: 6

Edmund Goulding wrote and directed this story of an American woman who marries a British lord, then has a fling with an old flame before realizing she and her husband really love each other.

Lord Philip Rexford (Herbert Marshall) and Mary (Norma Shearer) meet dressed as insects for a costume ball. A whirlwind romance in New York causes Philip to get off his boat to England so they can marry. Five years later Philip is leaving for America, and Mary does not want to be separated for the first time. Mary is afraid Philip no longer excites her, and she goes with Aunt Hetty (Mrs. Patrick Campbell) to Cannes, where she meets the drunk Tommie Trent (Robert Montgomery), whom she knew well in New York. They both jump in the pool and put on robes. Tommie calls Mary a prude but says he could marry her because they are "kindred spirits" and "children of the night." She leaves; but he shouts for Mary and falls off her balcony. Mary visits him in the hospital, and a photo of them kissing causes a scandal.

Mary tries to explain to her husband Philip, but he denies he is upset, forgiving but not believing her, because she did not stop with a kiss before they were married. Mary asks Tommie to talk to Philip. He tells Philip he was drunk, got fresh, and takes sole responsibility. Philip complains of Mary's bad taste and tells her she has become restless and affected; he is going to a lawyer for a divorce. Mary asks for another chance. Philip tells her it doesn't matter anymore.

Mary drinks with Tommie. When a fire breaks out at Hetty's house, Mary is found in a room with Tommie. However, Philip's lawyer tells him he has found no real proof. Philip resents the inquiries, believes Mary innocent, and wants her back. Mary tells Tommie she is going to Philip to close that chapter; but Philip tells her he loves her and needs her, asking forgiveness. She says she loves him; but a call from Tommie puts Philip in doubt again. Mary now wants to stay with Philip and tells Hetty, her sister Sylvia, and Tommie she won't tell Philip the truth in order to protect him and will deny the gossip. Philip comes in and asks Tommie to stop annoying Mary. Mary tells Philip that Tommie is seeing Sylvia; but Tommie tells him he loves Mary. Philip says Mary is living a lie, and she admits it but also realizes she always wanted to be with Philip. Yet she will accept divorce as her punishment. Lawyers get her to agree to give up her little daughter; but in the final scene Philip and Mary realize they cannot be parted, and Mary is reunited with her daughter.

This film aroused morality concerns about pre-marital sex and adultery. Mary learns that for intimacy to develop the truth must be uncovered. His inability to recognize and express his real feelings almost cost Philip his wife.

Copyright © 1999 by Sanderson Beck

Movie Mirrors Index

BECK index