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A movie with an interesting view of marriage as social convention
This movie has a lot of interesting things to say about marriage. Primarily its message is that marriage is a social convention. Women get married because marriage offers "protection." The emphasis in this movie is on social protection: marriage will protect women from malicious social gossip and from other lecherous males.
John Neville (Joel McCrea) asks live-in girlfriend Valerie West (Constance Bennett) to marry him because he's "in love." She says she wants to wait because she wants to be sure that their love will last. When she marries, she wants it "to be for keeps." As she says, "I'm really quite an old-fashioned girl -- well, with some modern decorations." Valerie soon changes her mind when John's sister (played by Hedda Hopper) arranges a boat cruise inviting his father (played by Walter Walker), her former lover (played by Lew Cody), and another girl interested in John. Unable to stand the social awkwardness, the gossip, and the blatant advances of her former beau, Valerie decides that perhaps getting married even though she's not sure it will last is the best way to go after all.
A critique about society's views of women and marriage, this movie also boasts strong performances by Hedda Hopper as John's sister and Walter Walker as John's father. Hedda is particularly good as the nasty, bitchy hypocrite Claire Collis, who does all she can to break John and Valerie up while feigning ignorance about it. Constance Bennett also gives a strong performance as Valerie.
Being that this was a pre-Code and Constance's character was supposed to be a nude model, I had hoped that they might have snuck in some flashes of skin. Unfortunately, they don't. Even the portraits of Constance nude cover up the private areas. There is some nudity in the film though, a long shot of a group of presumably naked women posing on a float during a raucous French party.
Given the performances and the interesting message the movie has, I'd give it a 7/10.
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