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Woman Against Woman

(1938 b 61')

En: 4 Ed: 5

A lawyer divorces his selfish wife but finds her trying to manipulate him and his new wife too.

Cynthia Holland (Mary Astor) calls her husband Steve Holland (Herbert Marshall) about renewing the lease on their house. Life-long housekeeper Dora (Sarah Padden) tells Steve she can't work for Cynthia, because she is selfish and controls him. Steve buys a toy for his daughter Ellen (Juanita Quigley) and tells Cynthia he refuses to dine with Morton, but he gives in to her. Cynthia insists on accepting another invitation from the Mortons despite Steve's repeated refusals. At home Steve tells Cynthia he can't live with her anymore and leaves.

Cynthia is divorced, and Steve's mother (Janet Beecher) offers to help her with Steve; but he says it is over. At the Washington party of Emma Kingsley (Marjorie Rambeau) Maris Kent (Virginia Bruce) goes back to meet Steve. In court Maris watches Steve argue for patent infringement. Steve and Maris spend eight days together before he kisses her. Maris says she loves him. Grandma (Zeffie Tilbury) questions Maris about Steve and his ex-wife. Steve tells Maris that his mother can't attend the wedding but wants them to live with her. Emma warns Maris about living in Steve's home town. Cynthia learns from Mrs. Holland that Steve is marrying. Steve brings Maris to his mother and tells Maris to look for a home; but she finds one near Cynthia's folks. Maris meets Ellen. At the country club Maris meets Cynthia. Others gossip and defend Cynthia. The maid gets off, and Maris cooks Christmas dinner. Steve visits Ellen and declines to stay for dinner, noting that Cynthia tried to use Ellen. Maris and Steve enjoy a new record player.

Maris feels snubbed at the club, and Steve shows her their new home. Maris complains she is an outsider and wants to leave, but Steve persuades her to stay. At Emma's party Maris asks Cynthia not to leave and criticizes her for making a scene. Steve's mother calls him to stop Cynthia from leaving town with Ellen. Steve persuades Cynthia to delay it. Maris blames Cynthia and says she won't really leave. Cynthia calls Steve that Ellen is sick. Maris suspects Ellen may not be sick. Steve, Maris, and Mrs. Holland go to see Ellen and find she is okay. Steve criticizes Cynthia, who says she is going to New York. Maris offers to give Cynthia another chance by forgetting it. In the final scene at the club Cynthia is cordial to Steve and to Maris.

This drama explores a manipulative personality, the misery caused by such controlling, and the difficulties of healing a divorced relationship for the sake of the child and a new relationship. Maris shows that by her love she can keep Steve and overcome interference by Cynthia too.

Copyright © 2001 by Sanderson Beck

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