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Our Betters (1933)

Passed  |   |  Comedy, Drama, Romance  |  17 March 1933 (USA)
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Reviews: 15 user | 4 critic

Although the British upper class may be thought our betters in society, but they are certainly not our betters, and perhaps our equals, in morality.



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Complete credited cast:
Lady Pearl Grayston
Violet Kemble Cooper ...
Duchess (as Violet Kemble-Cooper)
Phoebe Foster ...
Thornton Clay
Pepi D'Costa
Minor Watson ...
Arthur Fenwick
Hugh Sinclair ...
Lord Bleane
Lord George Grayston
Harold Entwistle ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Virginia Howell ...
Mrs. Saunders (scenes deleted)
Walter Walker ...
Mr. Saunders (scenes deleted)


American heiress Pearl Saunders marries Lord George Grayston but later sees him embracing his lover on their wedding day. She has his title and he has her money; thereafter they are rarely seen together. Pearl is accepted by the British aristocracy and is presented at court, but creates a scandal by wearing black. She encourages her younger sister, Bessie, who idolizes her, to respond to the attentions of Lord Harry Bleane despite Bessie preferring American Fleming Harvey. Pearl gives a weekend party at the Grayston estate inviting close friends, including her lover, Arthur Fenwick; her friend, Duchess Minnie and Minnie's gigolo companion, Pepi D'Costa; as well as Bessie, Lord Bleane and Harvey. Pepi, who had been meeting Pearl on the sly, discretely suggests a rendezvous with her in the new teahouse on the property. Both make some pretext to leave but are seen by Minnie entering the teahouse. Vindictive Minnie pretends to have left her purse in the teahouse and sends Bessie to fetch ... Written by Arthur Hausner <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

wedding | sister | party | heiress | gigolo | See All (25) »


Comedy | Drama | Romance


Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

17 March 1933 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Haute société  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Photophone System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The play opened on Broadway in New York City, New York, USA on 12 March 1917 and closed in June 1917 after 112 performances. It was revived on 20 February 1928 with Ina Claire as Pearl, Constance Collier as the Duchess, Reginald Bach (who also directed) as Thornton Clay, and with Lillian Kemble-Cooper and Madge Evans. The revival ran for 128 performances and closed in June 1928. See more »


When Pepi and Minnie meet the day after his "indescretion", in one shot he's lighting a cigarette and standing to the left of a table between himself and Minnie. In the next closer shot, still lighting the cigarette, he's now standing to the right of the table and next to Minnie. Furthermore, the lighter suddenly changes from Pepi's left hand to his right. See more »


Lady Pearl Saunders Grayston: Men are trivial, foolish creatures. Kind hearts but no heads. And they're so vain, poor dears, they're so vain.
See more »


Featured in The Celluloid Closet (1995) See more »


God Save the Queen!
(1744) (uncredited)
Music attributed to Henry Carey
Played at the end of the royal court scenes
See more »

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User Reviews

The upper classes via W. Somerset Maughan
30 August 2005 | by (New York) – See all my reviews

W Somerset Maughan, the influential English writer and playwright, was a man that knew a lot about the upper crust society of England. His delightful play about rich people living privileged lives, serves as the basis of this movie that is not seen often. The film is greatly helped by the direction given by George Cukor, a man who was in his element eliciting excellent performances of his cast.

Best of all is Constance Bennett, a luminous presence in the movies of those days that was at the height of her popularity when "Our Betters" was made. Ms. Bennett had a beautiful figure and she could act. In the film she plays Lady Pearl Grayston, an American living in London.

The other extraordinary performance is given by Violet Kemble, who as Minnie, the Duchess of Surae, shows quite a range as the silly old woman in love with a young playboy. Ms. Kemble is enormously funny at one point, then, when she discovers her Pepi's infidelity, she is quite crossed with her hostess for taking such a step right in front of her.

The others in the cast are quite good. Phoebe Foster, the gorgeous Anita Louise, Gilbert Roland, Alan Mowbray, and in an over the top performance in the last sequence by Tyrell Davis who, as a flighty Ernest, shows up made up and with all the best intentions to make the Duchess learn how to dance the tango.

A delightful comedy thanks to Mr. Maughan and Mr. Cukor.

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

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Forgive me for asking the obvious..... calvinnme
Ernest--'happy individualist' or 'vile gay stereotype'? verbumctf
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