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Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Divorcee (1930)

Set among the Manhattan cafe society "in" crowd, a liberated woman (Norma Shearer in her Oscar winning role) marries a man (Chester Morris) with the intent to live her life and her marriage as her husband's equal. But she's devastated when she discovers her husband's infidelity despite his entreaties that it didn't mean a thing and he loves only her. But when she has a one night stand with his best friend (Robert Montgomery), he can't forgive her and moves out. This pre-code film is a provocative look at not only adultery but the hypocrisy of the male's double standard ("please forgive me my trespasses but I can never forgive yours"). I only wish the film had made more of a focal point of the husband's lip service rather than place the burden of the adultery on Shearer's wife. Shearer hadn't quite settled into her "great lady" roles at MGM yet so she's quite lively and yes, even has a bit of sex appeal, here. Based on the novel EX-WIFE by Ursula Parrott and directed by Robert Z. Leonard. With Florence Eldridge, Conrad Nagel and Zelda Sears.

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