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Design for Living (1933)

Approved  |   |  Comedy, Romance  |  29 December 1933 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 3,485 users  
Reviews: 36 user | 46 critic

A woman cannot decide between two men who love her, and the trio agree to try living together in a platonic friendly relationship.



(play), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Complete credited cast:
George Curtis
Max Plunkett
Mr. Douglas, Theatrical Producer
Plunkett's Stenographer
Curtis' Housekeeper
Wyndham Standing ...
Max's Butler


Two Americans sharing a flat in Paris, playwright Tom Chambers and painter George Curtis, fall for free-spirited Gilda Farrell. When she can't make up her mind which one of them she prefers, she proposes a "gentleman's agreement": She will move in with them as a friend and critic of their work, but they will never have sex. But when Tom goes to London to supervise a production of one of his plays, leaving Gilda alone with George, how long will their gentleman's agreement last? Written by Capel Cleggs <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Romance


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

29 December 1933 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Not Married  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


One of over 700 Paramount Productions, filmed between 1929 and 1949, which were sold to MCA/Universal in 1958 for television distribution, and have been owned and controlled by Universal ever since. See more »


Shadow of boom mic visible at train station. See more »


Gilda Farrell: Boys, it's the only thing we can do. Let's forget sex.
See more »


Spoofed in Design for Leaving (1954) See more »


The Star Spangled Banner
(1814) (uncredited)
Music by John Stafford Smith
Hummed by Gary Cooper and Fredric March
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Another Gem from Paramount
28 June 2005 | by (Santiago de Chile.) – See all my reviews

Intelligent script, witty dialogue, sexy stars, sophisticated story, deft direction&#8230;What more can I say? It's Lubitsch and Paramount at its Pre-Code best! This was another of those "vintage" films of which you had the chance of reading a lot about, but before Universal released "The Gary Cooper Collection", where it's included, you had nowhere to watch it. Of course, I bought promptly the aforementioned set.

The picture tells the story of free-spirited Gilda Farrell, a young lady who works at a Parisian Advertising Agency, managed by that great seasoned pro, Edward Everett Horton, who by chance meets on board a train, struggling, penniless, artists George Curtis, a painter (Gary Cooper) and Thomas Chambers, a playwright (Fredric March), in which may be one of the most "risqué" plots of all the Pre-Code Era, dealing openly with the pros and cons of a mènage-a-trois.

Miriam Hopkins portrays the deliciously mischievous Gilda, giving a top, tongue-in-cheek performance, looking absolutely beautiful and full of glow from within; it's really in her films directed by Lubitsch that her appeal shines at its most and she looks at her attractive-best.

Fredric March is good too as the "more down-to-earth-but-nevertheless-madly-in-love" playwright, who lives with buddy Gary Cooper in a miserable tenement, until Miriam Hopkins comes in scene and to "the rescue".

But the revelation, in my opinion, is Gary Cooper; after seeing him in many of his 1930s films, I feel that I like him best in the variety of roles he got to play in those years: a young idealist in "Peter Ibbetson", a sensitive soldier in "A Farewell to Arms", a sophisticated artist in this one, etc. He really was a good actor from the beginning of his "talkies" career (I haven't seen his Silents, so I cannot give an opinion), showing much skill and depth in his interpretations. In this film he plays excellently opposite such strong talents as Miriam Hopkins and Fredric March, absolutely "a la par".

In all, a highly enjoyable film. Smart Entertainment. A must.

25 of 28 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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