IMDb > Private Lives (1931)
Private Lives
Quicklinks
Top Links
trailers and videosfull cast and crewtriviaofficial sitesmemorable quotes
Overview
main detailscombined detailsfull cast and crewcompany credits
Awards & Reviews
user reviewsexternal reviewsawardsuser ratingsparents guidemessage board
Plot & Quotes
plot summarysynopsisplot keywordsmemorable quotes
Did You Know?
triviagoofssoundtrack listingcrazy creditsalternate versionsmovie connectionsFAQ
Other Info
box office/businessrelease datesfilming locationstechnical specsliterature listingsNewsDesk
Promotional
taglines trailers and videos posters photo gallery
External Links
showtimesofficial sitesmiscellaneousphotographssound clipsvideo clips

Private Lives (1931) More at IMDbPro »

Photos (See all 3 | slideshow)

Overview

User Rating:
7.0/10   610 votes »
Your Rating:
Saving vote...
Deleting vote...
/10   (delete | history)
Sorry, there was a problem
MOVIEmeter: ?
Down 17% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Director:
Writers:
Noel Coward (play)
Hanns Kräly (scenario) ...
(more)
Contact:
View company contact information for Private Lives on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
12 December 1931 (USA) See more »
Genre:
Plot:
Elyot and Sibyl are being married in a big church ceremony. Amanda and Victor are being married by a French Justice of the Peace... See more » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
NewsDesk:
(155 articles)
'War of the Roses' adaptation coming to Broadway
 (From EW.com - PopWatch. 30 June 2014, 1:00 PM, PDT)

Chris Colfer To Star As Noel Coward
 (From The Backlot. 14 May 2014, 7:33 PM, PDT)

Actor Doug Hale Dies at 73
 (From Variety - TV News. 14 May 2014, 3:33 PM, PDT)

User Reviews:
It's Pure Fluff...But What Delectable Fluff See more (20 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Norma Shearer ... Amanda Prynne

Robert Montgomery ... Elyot Chase

Reginald Denny ... Victor Prynne
Una Merkel ... Sibyl Chase

Jean Hersholt ... Oscar
George Davis ... Bell Hop
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Herman Bing ... Train Conductor (uncredited)
Ferike Boros ... Cook at Chalet (uncredited)
Alphonse Martell ... Hotel Concierge (uncredited)
Wilfrid North ... Sibyl's Wedding Escort (uncredited)
Create a character page for: ?

Directed by
Sidney Franklin 
 
Writing credits
Noel Coward (play)

Hanns Kräly (scenario) (as Hans Kraly) and
Richard Schayer (scenario)

Claudine West (continuity)

Produced by
Irving Thalberg .... producer (uncredited)
 
Original Music by
William Axt (uncredited)
 
Cinematography by
Ray Binger (photographed by)
 
Film Editing by
Conrad A. Nervig 
 
Art Direction by
Cedric Gibbons 
 
Costume Design by
Adrian (gowns)
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Harold S. Bucquet .... assistant director (uncredited)
 
Sound Department
Douglas Shearer .... recording director
Fred Morgan .... sound (uncredited)
 
Crew verified as complete


Production CompaniesDistributors
Create a character page for: ?

Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
84 min
Country:
Language:
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Certification:
USA:Passed (National Board of Review) | USA:TV-G (TV rating)

Did You Know?

Trivia:
Glacier Bay Park in Montana doubled for the Swiss Alps in the film's mountain climbing scene.See more »
Goofs:
Continuity: When Elyot, Amanda and Oscar are riding on the gondola, Elyot and Amanda begin to argue. As their argument escalates, the two of them stand up and Oscar, listening quietly, stands up with them. Their is a cut to a medium shot of Oscar which shows him still seated. Then a return to the shot of the three of them which shows Oscar standing again.See more »
Quotes:
Amanda:I think very few people are completely normal really, deep down in their private lives. It all depends on a combination of circumstances. If all the various cosmic thingummys fuse at the same moment, and the right spark is struck, there's no knowing what one mightn't do. That was the trouble with Elyot and me, we were like two violent acids bubbling about in a nasty little matrimonial bottle.See more »
Movie Connections:
Version of Private Lives (1939) (TV)See more »
Soundtrack:
Bridal Chorus (Here Comes the Bride)See more »

FAQ

A favorite line
See more »
7 out of 11 people found the following review useful.
It's Pure Fluff...But What Delectable Fluff, 4 October 2006
Author: theowinthrop from United States

Noel Coward created at least four comic plays that have staying power: "Private Lives", "Design For Living", "Hay Fever", and "Blythe Spirit". Three of them were turned into films, but the results are mixed. "Design For Living" was seriously bowdlerized by Hollywood, with a "bi-sexual" element eliminated. "Blythe Spirit" (which has a funny twist on how marriages always seem to sour as individuality is smashed) was done better, but it lacks a resolution that showed how the "so-called" tragedy of the plot actually benefits the hero, Charles Condimine. And "Private Lives", while having a degree of elegance from it's stars, is not brittle enough.

Coward was a master of developing attitude through his dialog. He seems to have modeled his handling of his characters on William S. Gilbert (of Gilbert & Sullivan fame). Gilbert had always insisted when directing his own plays that the characters retained the seriousness of their own characters and points of view. This worked in the Savoy Operas quite well, and Coward (who wrote musicals as well as comedies) picked up on it. When Elyot and Amanda flow from their sexual cosiness into their inane arguments, both of them are firmly sure that they are in the right. But being in the right is not enough: they have to be above it all by their social snobbery in the same dialog. If you don't insist on this in producing "Private Lives" the play may remain amusing but it's snap is lost.

Example:

Amanda: "I heard you went to Asia"

Elyot: "Yes"

Amanda: "How was China?"

Elyot: "Very large."

Amanda: "How was Japan?"

Elyot: "Very small."

Brittle and short and to the point - and it does give an impression of what Elyot noticed (very little really) of two major Asiatic cultures. It is also quite dismissive - the teaming millions of Asia are reduced to four meaningless words. This dialog appears in the film version of PRIVATE LIVES, but the sharpness required for "Very large" and "Very small" is not quite there. So the effect of the dialog is diminished.

Robert Montgomery usually played in MGM films at this time as weaklings (like in "The Big House") or as upper crust cads (like in "The Divorcée"). He demonstrated an agreeably sophisticated cynicism in his films, and was slowly building up an acting ability that would turn into strong dramatic performances in "Night Must Fall" and films like "They Were Espendable" later on.

Montgomery came from a wealthy family, so his polished elegance was real. But he was an American, and Elyot's brittle snobbery is more likely to be found in English acting. The role of Elyot was played by Noel Coward originally. MGM either never thought of asking him to play the role, or could not get him for some reason.

Norma Shearer was a better than average actress, and she had played upper class Americans (like her betrayed wife in "The Women"), but she too is not English (she was Canadian). She too can't quite match the flash of snobbishness in Amanda's role that was brought to it by the original player, Gertrude Lawrence. As Lawrence and Coward were close friends in real life, they brought even more to the roles than Montgomery and Shearer could have brought.

The result is that the film is very amusing - otherwise I would not give it an "8". But it could not reach the divine heights that Coward and Lawrence brought to it.

As for the supporting couple, Reginald Denny and Una Merkle, they are adequate for their hapless roles as the newlywed partners of Elyot and Amanda. But Una Merkle as Sybil is too middle American a personality, and only is able to hint at Sybil's "fade - in - the - shade" fate when compared to spitfire Amanda. Denny was a workmanlike Victor, and (as the only English person in the cast's leads) a touch of reality to the film. But Victor's smoldering anger is barely touched on in his performance (he's too much of a gentleman). Oddly enough, MGM never thought of using the actor who originated Victor's character on stage - another friend of Noel. His name was Laurence Olivier.

Was the above review useful to you?
See more (20 total) »

Message Boards

Discuss this movie with other users on IMDb message board for Private Lives (1931)
Recent Posts (updated daily)User
DVD? bombalurina1
If a new version were made... vegwriter
DVD now available directly from Warner's webpage! simonhowson
See more »

Recommendations

If you enjoyed this title, our database also recommends:
- - - - -
Kings & Queen I Confess Before Sunrise Love Actually Forgetting Sarah Marshall
IMDb User Rating:
IMDb User Rating:
IMDb User Rating:
IMDb User Rating:
IMDb User Rating:
Show more recommendations

Related Links

Full cast and crew Company credits External reviews
News articles IMDb Comedy section IMDb USA section

You may report errors and omissions on this page to the IMDb database managers. They will be examined and if approved will be included in a future update. Clicking the 'Edit page' button will take you through a step-by-step process.