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(1933 b 83')

En: 5 Ed: 6

This sophisticated comedy based on a play by Somerset Maugham satirizes the liberal morals of the English aristocracy and social climbers.

Wealthy American Pearl Saunders (Constance Bennett) weds British aristocrat George Grayston (Alan Mowbray) and learns that George loves a mistress but couldn't marry her because both lack money. Pearl creates a sensation appearing at court in black, saying she is mourning George's dead sense of humor. Pearl's sister Bessie Saunders (Anita Louise) gets a proposal from Lord Harry Bleane (Hugh Sinclair), but Fleming Harvey (Charles Starrett) arrives to see if Bessie still loves him. Social butterfly Thornton Clay (Grant Mitchell) offers to show Fleming around. Duchess Minnie (Violet Kemble Cooper) asks Pearl to help Pepi D'Costa (Gilbert Roland) and is jealous. Princess Flora (Phoebe Foster) asks Minnie for a contribution. Pepi tells Pearl that he thinks of her. Arthur Fenwick (Minor Watson) waits to see Pearl alone and praises her. Pearl gets a call from Pepi inviting her.

Pearl tells Minnie that she met Pepi, and everyone laughs. Bessie agrees to marry Harry, and Fleming tells Flora his criticism of this social scene. Pepi tells Minnie he wants his own car and asks why she won't marry him. Minnie says it ruins romance and promises him a car. Thornton asks Minnie to dance. Pepi wishes Pearl loved him and kisses her on the neck. Pepi asks to meet Pearl in the teahouse. Arthur plays poker, and Minnie sends Bessie to the teahouse for her bag. Bessie looks in but says it is locked. Minnie says she saw Pearl and Pepi. They come in, and Arthur asks where Pearl was. Thornton, Flora, and Fleming discuss what happened. Minnie tells Flora that she will ruin Pearl and asks Pepi to say he is sorry; but he only regrets she caught them. Pepi says he will go to Chile mines; but Minnie says she will marry him, offering him 1,000 pounds a year. Minnie plans to leave without seeing Pearl, who has limited her transportation.

Minnie comes back in and won't forgive Pearl, who says that Pepi does not interest her. Arthur tells Pearl it is over with them, but he will continue her allowance. Pearl gives her pearls back to him and tells Bessie that Pepi is marrying Minnie. Arthur says that Pearl only has him, and Pearl puts her pearls on again. Bessie tells Pearl that she is going to Paris with Flora, because she is ashamed of her. Pearl tells Bessie that she needs Arthur's money for her influence, but Bessie despises Pearl and walks out. Pearl tells Harry that Bessie does not love him and persuades him not to marry her so that Bessie won't be like her. Fleming learns of this and embraces Bessie. Ernest (Tyrell Davis) arrives and is welcomed by Pearl. Ernest instructs Minnie on dancing. Minnie decides to stay and embraces Pearl.

Although the acting is uneven, this drawing-room comedy skewers the idle upper class and their subtle games of social influence and love.

Copyright © 2001 by Sanderson Beck

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