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The Lady Refuses (1931)

Passed | | Drama, Romance | 8 March 1931 (USA)
A wealthy London nobleman hires a pretty but poor young girl to distract his playboy son from marrying a golddigger. Complications ensue when the girl and the father begin to fall for each ... See full summary »



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Complete credited cast:
John Darrow ...
Russell Courtney
Gilbert Emery ...
Sir Gerald Courtney
Berthine Waller
Nikolai Rabinoff
Edgar Norton ...
Dobbs - Sir Gerald's Butler
Daphne Pollard ...
Millie - Apartment House Maid


A wealthy London nobleman hires a pretty but poor young girl to distract his playboy son from marrying a golddigger. Complications ensue when the girl and the father begin to fall for each other, and things get even more complicated when the son declares his love for her, too. Written by frankfob2@yahoo.com

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Drama | Romance


Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

8 March 1931 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Photophone System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


[first lines]
First Bobby: [a dark, foggy street in London. Two bobbies are observing a young woman walking along furtively] New one, isn't she Albert?
Albert, Second Bobby: Must be, or she wouldn't be out on a night like this. No weather for a dog.
First Bobby: Nor for no cat, neither!
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Three Little Words
(1930) (uncredited)
Music by Harry Ruby
Played as dance music at the nightclub
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User Reviews

Not a great film by any stretch of the imagination, but I still kind of liked it
27 October 2006 | by (Bradenton, Florida) – See all my reviews

This film isn't particularly outstanding in so many ways. Some of the acting and plot elements were rather pedestrian (at best) and the plot is very hard to believe, but despite all this I actually enjoyed the film more than my score of 6 might indicate. That's because this is a "Pre-Code" film (actually, this term should be "Early-Code") and I find these films VERY entertaining relics from our past. The Hays Office was created in the 1920s to enforce morality and decency in the film industry, but it was still in its early days and studios routinely ignored it until the stronger "Production Code" was adopted in 1935. Up until then, films were often amazingly risqué and adult--even by today's standards. A few examples of the things that led to the Hays Office being created and strengthened were:

--The 1920s version of BEN HUR, in which there was quite a bit of nudity and violence--and this was a Biblical Epic!

--The film PARACHUTE JUMPER includes a scene where Frank McHugh is hitchhiking. When a car passes without stopping, his thumb instantly becomes a middle-finger!

--In BIRD OF PARADISE, TARZAN THE APE MAN and THE BARBARIAN, there were some very explicit bathing scenes in which you see a lot of Delores Del Rio, Maureen O'Sullivan and Myrna Loy!

While THE LADY REFUSES doesn't include nudity, it is definitely a "Pre-Code"-style film because of the very adult themes. The leading lady (Betty Compson) plays a prostitute "with a heart of gold" who is hired by a man to seduce away his son from a "gold-digger"! And, later both the son AND father fall for this prostitute and want to marry her! Oddly, however, the words 'prostitute', 'hooker' nor any of the other slang terms for the profession are used in the film--though it's very clear that this is Ms. Compson's job. In addition to this adult aspect of the film, the son twice spends the night in Ms. Compson's bed and everyone in the film THINKS that they were fornicating (though they weren't). Such innuendo NEVER would have been tolerated just a few years later.

Now despite all these sleazy elements, the movie itself is pretty entertaining and well-made--and definitely kept my interest. Ms. Compson was a dandy actress in the film and it's sad her career as a talking picture leading lady slowly fizzled. As for John Darrow and Gilbert Emery, they both were pretty poor at times--having some trouble with their lines and occasionally over or under-acting. It wasn't bad enough to severely hinder the film, but it was noticeable if you were paying close attention.

The bottom line is that for fans of the "Pre-Code" films or film buffs, this is a MUST-SEE film. For most others, it's a time-passer or eminently one you can skip.

18 of 23 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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