|Index||8 reviews in total|
Although the film reads as a fairly typical marriage / divorce romance film, Bette Davis stands out as a feisty third wheel to George Brent and Ruth Chatterton. She is at her most playful and spirited in the scene in Brent's apartment before he leaves for Europe. Wonderful stuff.
When I first got this movie, I didn't watch it right away, thinking
that, most probably it was a light comedy drama movie, but the actors
interested me, especially George Brent and Bette Davis. Knowing that,
in this movie, starring Ruth Chatterton, who was married with George
Brent at that time, was happened to be the movie where Bette Davis and
George Brent fell in love, appealed to me. Later on Chatterton and
Brent would divorce but Brent and Davis never married although they
kept a relationship for quite long.
But when I saw this movie I realized what a great actress Ruth Chatterton was. And for a time when actors and actresses would say their line the best right and straight forwarded way, Ruth Chatterton speaks in such natural way, at times repeating one or two words in a sentence, as if there was no camera at all. Something that nowadays actors do, at times not so naturally.
Bette Davis still not being "caught" by the clever camera, appears very glamorous, beautiful and determined, but her eyes, alas, the camera doesn't really focus the moment she is sitting on a couch and looking to the right, slowly... what would made her later on "Bette Davis' eyes". Anyhow she is so wonderful here that Davis fans will really love her play.
The romantic scenes are very well filmed, and because everything seems so naturally sophisticated, Brent kisses and embraces with a great gentleman's style. What he was in real life.
This movie's plot is very simple, but it is very well portrayed and love has a great importance as a meaning, like in so many classic movies. Only that in this one, love goes beyond "you and me"
Almost silly plot but the three stars are very good. Ruth Chatterton
plays the "richest woman in America" who has had a string of bad
marriages but is being romanced by novelist George Brent. He is pursued
by "the pest of Park Avenue," Bette Davis. Chatterton loses current
husband (John Miljan) to gold digging Adrienne Dore.
Chatterton runs off to Paris for a divorce while Davis pursues Brent. Brent goes to Paris after the divorce but Chatterton can't make up her mind. He goes to Romania! Back in New York, Chatterton learns that the new wife is pregnant and that Brent and Davis are an item. Wrong on both counts. Things come to a head when Chatterton learns Brent is planning a year in China to write. That settles it.
The next morning the trampy wife can't wait to break the news of the evening's romance but Davis decks her and throws her out of her house. The old husband and trampy wife crash into a tree on their way back to town. She croaks but the mangled husband is calling out for Chatterton......
Total drivel but entertaining because of some snappy dialog and three tops stars.
Berton Churchill, Sam McDaniel, Cecil Cunningham, Walter Walker, Virginia Hammond co-star......
... in which even "the poor writer" (George Brent as Julian Tierney)
has posh roomy quarters and a full time servant in the person of Max
(Sam McDaniel, Hattie Mc Daniel's brother).
In 1932 Warner's capitalized on their recent raid of Paramount's talent to put one of those stars (Ruth Chatterton) in the kind of drama that she did so well - playing a woman of means in the Great Depression that the average person could relate to and even find likable. Here Ms. Chatterton plays Caroline, born "the richest girl in the world". At age 20 she marries successful stock broker Greg Grannard (John Miljan). Then the film fast forwards to ten years later. Caroline is enjoying a rather robust flirtation with writer Julian. Julian wants it to be more, but you get the feeling that Caroline, although fond of Julian, is just doing this to feed her vanity and assure herself that she is still desirable, that she doesn't really want to upset her life as she has been living it all of these years.
It would never occur to her that her husband might feel the same way. He too is carrying on with someone else - the bratty Allison, who, unlike Julian, is not respecting of her lover's desire to leave things as they are. She lures Greg into an embrace where Caroline is sure to spot them and it leads to Greg being granted the divorce that Allison wants him to get so she can get her hooks into him. Complicating matters is Bette Davis as Malbro (wherever did they get that name???) as a socialite who wants Julian at any price and I mean that literally. One of Malbro's selling points to Julian is that if he married her he wouldn't have to work anymore.
I found the story interesting and the performances superb. Chatterton especially shines in the scene where she, her husband, and Allison are discussing how to go forward - divorce, open marriage, end the affair - after she spots Allison and Greg together. She gives the part and the scene the dignity and the subtlety it requires to be believable. All through the film, even after the divorce, she struggles with her desire for continuity - represented by Greg who is still very much in her life - versus her desire for passion, represented by Julian, who wants her to cut off ties with Greg entirely and marry him.
Even in such a small part you see can see what made Bette Davis great. When she turns into a ball of fire on screen in the few scenes she had center stage you can see how she blew the frost right off the first generation of talking film actresses. An interesting aside - the iconic moment in "Now Voyager" where Paul Henreid lights two cigarettes in his mouth and passes one to Davis was actually done here first. This time it is in a moment shared between George Brent and Ruth Chatterton.
Where in the world did the screenwriters come up with such a first
name? It is attached to the flirty character very well played by Bette
Ruth Chatterton was always good. She and Davis are both rich (though exactly what the origin of the axiom in the title is, I'm not sure.) She is married to an insufferable stuffed shirt. George Brent is also interested in her. Why she wants to stay with her husband is unclear. It's not as if he's faithful.
Chatterton is not well served by the film. She is costumed and made up in a highly unflattering way. Superb film actress though she was, even in 1932, she was no spring chicken. And the movie is filmed in a way that accents this.
The situations are a tiny bit racy but don't accept an ooh-la-la sort of pre-Code movie. It's a drawing room comedy of a second- or third-tier. Davis's character's name is probably the most memorable thing about it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
There's a difference between sexual attraction and sexual compatibility
insists the wealthy Ruth Chatterton, telling her husband's obvious
mistress that in spite of the fact that she is keeping company with
another man. It is obvious that these wealthy sex games are like toys
for tots and that tragedy will certainly strike one of them. As far as
pre-code movies go, this has the plot, if not the sass, of most of
Warner Brothers' pictures of this era. What is lacking also is a
sparkling cast with John Miljan as the husband, George Brent as the
other man and Adrienne Dore as the vindictive other woman who gets a
star for her bitchiness if not her cleverness.
Newcomer Bette Davis shows some spark as one of Brent's admirers and is allowed to be a bit more gracious for the most part than usual roles of this nature. Her character seems to go from being Chatterton's confidante to obsessed with Brent yet still standing on Chatterton's side when Dore begins to get too nasty. Missing from her performance is her usual clipped speech which is a refreshing change. But this is Chatterton's film all the way, and she eats up the scenery every chance she gets even though her character is lacking in the morality she seems to be demanding in everybody else. While Warner Brothers had its share of decent society dramas, Paramount (Chatterton's former home) did them better than any other studio so in comparison, this one seems a lot less substantial than the others and almost lifeless in comparison.
George Brent in The Rich Are Always With Us got to work with two very
important women in his life. Brent was married to star Ruth Chatterton
for a bit after this film was released. Also in the cast was Bette
Davis who Brent later got involved with and who had him as her male
lead in some of her best films.
This one however will never be ranked as one of the best film for any of the trio above. Chatterton plays a Gloria Vanderbilt type heiress who married John Miljan after the end of the Great War. Miljan was a stockbroker and his marriage to Chatterton brought him lots of clients and lots of business. But Miljan has always had a roving eye and now its roved to Adrienne Dore who's a pretty and predatory piece of fluff who wants a lot more than a quick roll in the hay.
That's a situation that does not please Brent who plays a novelist who's always had a thing for Chatterton. That in turn does not please pretty young flapper Bette Davis who has a thing for Brent, something she would have in many films to come.
Davis is so alive and so electric in her presence that she sweeps the film away from the stars when she's on the screen. You wish you would get more of her, but her big break for stardom was two years away with Of Human Bondage.
While so many millions were wondering where the next meal and/or paycheck would be forthcoming in 1932 still these films about the rich and their problems were a box office draw. The Rich Are Always With Us was true escapist entertainment.
With the exception of Davis and Dore all the rest in the cast act like romantic saps. I will say that as to the ending Ruth Chatterton does two things that the forthcoming Code would never permit.
Rich Are Always with Us, The (1932)
** (out of 4)
A nice cast can't save this tiresome drama about boring rich people and their boring, pathetic lives. Ruth Chatterton plays Caroline who has the great fortune of being the richest woman in the world but this doesn't stop her husband from leaving her for a "normal" woman. She has a man (George Brent) who wants to marry her but there's another rich woman (Bette Davis) after him. All three remain friends as their money and personal lives continue to grow frantic. I can't imagine this film going over too well in 1932 considering what the country was going through at the time. It's hard to imagine poor folks lining up for this thing and enjoying what was in front of their eyes because even when viewed today these characters are all one-note and rather boring. The screenplay is a major bust because there's not a single character written that you'll care for or want to see happy at the end. I'm sure great movies could be made about unhappy rich people but this here isn't it. It's never too clear what the film is trying to accomplish because on one hand it wants us to feel sorry for these people but on the other why should we? The screenplay doesn't give them any personality and in the end it's just impossible to care for them, which is a major problem in a movie like this. Director Green should also be taken to task because you can't tell anyone was behind the camera. There's not an ounce of energy to be found anywhere as there's no atmosphere and the look of the film is quite flat as well. The one saving grace are some fine performances by a more than good cast. Chatterton was always good at playing this type of woman but the screenplay really lets her down. Both Brent and Davis are good in their roles but the screenplay doesn't help them either. THE RICH ARE ALWAYS WITH US isn't one of the worst films ever made but once the end credits come up there's really no purpose in the entire film.
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