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Private Lives

(1931 b 85')

En: 6 Ed: 7

Based closely on Noel Coward's play, a divorced meet on separate honeymoons and run off together, repeatedly quarreling and making up.

Elyot (Robert Montgomery) and Sybil (Una Merkel) wed at a church in England, while Amanda (Norma Shearer) and Victor (Reginald Denny) are married by a French judge. On a plane Elyot is not really happier than before and asks Sybil not to mention his former wife Amanda. On a picnic Victor criticizes Amanda's former husband for hitting her; but she likes hitting. At a French hotel Elyot and Sybil argue about Amanda. Victor and Amanda are in the room next door. Amanda tells Victor to stop talking about Elyot. Amanda sees Elyot on the terrace and sings the song he's whistling. Both Amanda and Elyot say they are just starting their honeymoons; they each decide to leave. Sybil refuses to go to Paris with Elyot, and Victor resists leaving with Amanda too. Amanda cries and tells Victor that Elyot is there. She pleads they leave, but Victor goes to the bar. Sybil cries and goes to the dining room. Both Amanda and Elyot are angry and drink cocktails. Elyot tells Amanda he is going away in the morning. They remember being together, and Elyot says they were overly in love. He tells Amanda he loves her, and she loves him. They kiss and then discuss escaping together. With their bags they slip past Victor and Sybil to the elevator.

Every time they start to bicker they agree to stop talking for two minutes after one person says, "Solomon and Isaac." In Switzerland they lay on a bed with others. Oscar (Jean Hersholt) gets them up, and they go mountain-climbing with him. Amanda talks about Victor, and Elyot gets jealous. They embrace on a couch but soon irritate each other. After another talking stop, they dance and kiss. Elyot gets jealous recalling Amanda's friendship with Peter. They quarrel and then fight, slapping each other. Elyot laughs. Amanda fights and says it is the end. Victor and Sybil come in, as Amanda and Elyot go on fighting. Amanda sees them and runs out screaming.

In the morning Amanda is packed and leaving, but Victor stops her to talk. Sybil asks Elyot not to leave. Amanda is cheerful, and Elyot praises her. They start arguing. Amanda apologizes to Victor and says Elyot drank and hit her. Victor suggests a divorce. Sybil says she is not divorcing Elyot, and Amanda says Victor is not divorcing her. They all have breakfast and make small talk. Victor and Sybil quarrel and start to fight. Elyot and Amanda sneak out. On the train they discuss Sybil and Victor and start to argue again until the conductor calls for silence.

This sophisticated comedy explores how passion easily slides into conflict, as this couple find words keep leading them into quarrels, showing how the strong emotions of love and hate are closely related.

Copyright © 1999 by Sanderson Beck

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