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Stella and Victor meet in Europe, fall deeply in love, and marry soon thereafter. Then they sail back to the States to meet Victor's family, and the honeymoon is over: Victor's family, dominated by his manipulative mother, find Stella -- a free spirit -- pretentious and aloof. Their marriage starts to fall apart when Victor begins siding with his family instead of his wife. Written by
Chris Stone <firstname.lastname@example.org> and Determined Copy Editor
Stella 'Stell' Hallam:
[Stella turns around to see that Victor has followed her out into the rain]
Oh, Vicky. I'm afraid you'll have to get me a taxi.
What for? I thought you liked to walk in the rain. I do.
[she takes his arm, and they walk off together in the pouring rain]
[faintly at first, then louder as Victor and Stell get closer]
Umbrellas! Buy umbrellas! Fifty cents umbrellas! Umbrellas! Buy umbrellas! Umbrellas! Fifty cents umbrellas! Umbrellas! Buy umbrellas! Fifty cents umbrellas! Umbrellas! Fifty...
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Rose Franken, now forgotten, was an estimable playwright of the first half of the 20th century, one of the very few women to reliably write Broadway hits. This is one such hit, a 1932 drama faithfully filmed with much of the original cast, with dialog neatly refashioned by two of MGM's best screenwriters, Herman Mankiewicz and Donald Ogden Stewart. Franken wrote particularly well about family dynamics, and that's pretty much all this is, the story of young marrieds threatened by the groom's unquestioning domination by a catty, conservative family, most especially his horror of a mother, well played by Louise Closser Hale. He's not an especially likable hero, often petty, self-centered, and domineering toward his wife, and Montgomery isn't afraid to emphasize his less attractive traits. So Helen Hayes is left to suffer quietly, trying to maintain her composure as his relatives mercilessly nitpick at her, and crushed every time she attempts to fight back. Hayes is, as usual, sexless, but she effectively catches this woman's desperation, and she partners well with John Beal, quite touching as the nephew who falls in love with her. (What happens to him? After his final exit, I expected to hear an offstage gunshot.) It's economical, swift storytelling, with a bunch of good character actors in support, and their portrayals, thanks largely to the writing, are well-rounded-- nobody's totally awful, except Louise Closser Hale's grasping mama.
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