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What Every Woman Knows (1934)

Passed | | Comedy | 19 October 1934 (USA)
The story takes place in Scotland, where plain Maggie Wylie's family, fearing she may become a spinster, finances young John Shand's studies in return for his agreement to marry her in five... See full summary »



(play) (as Sir James Matthew Barrie), (screenplay) | 2 more credits »


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Complete credited cast:
Lucile Watson ...


The story takes place in Scotland, where plain Maggie Wylie's family, fearing she may become a spinster, finances young John Shand's studies in return for his agreement to marry her in five years. Recognizing his ambitions, Maggie helps to guide his career without his realizing it. He honors his commitment, even though he does not feel real love for her as she does for him. Will he succumb to the wiles of young aristocratic beauty Sybil, or learn to appreciate Maggie's true worth? Written by Robert Tonsing <rtonsing@ti.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Passed | See all certifications »





Release Date:

19 October 1934 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

O Valor das Mulheres  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Some confusion exists as to who played Tenterden in the film. Film Daily and Variety lists Boyd Irwin in the role, but the New York Times and the Call Bureau Cast Service credit 'William Stack'. In the viewed print, it is clearly 'William Stack'. See more »


Alick Wylie: What is charm exactly, Maggie?
Maggie Wylie: Oh, it's... it's a sort of bloom on a woman. If you have it, you don't need anything else. And if you don't have it, it doesn't much matter what else you have. Some women, a few, have charm for all, and most have charm for one, and some have charm for none.
See more »


Version of What Every Woman Knows (1921) See more »


Loch Lomond
Traditional Scottish folk song
Sung during the opening credits by tenor Larry Burke
Played on piano by Helen Hayes and sung by her, David Torrence, Brian Aherne,
Donald Crisp and Janet Murdoch
Hummed by Brian Aherne
Played as background music often
See more »

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User Reviews

Helen Hayes and Brian Aherne are a delight
1 August 2015 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Maybe you have to be Scottish to completely appreciate this, but I've always loved this film. It is great to see Helen Hayes not playing the victim in a film role for once - although she played them well, and Brian Aherne, always a good actor, is a vivacious hunk at age 32, perfect for the role of a man who thinks he is more than he really is.

The story starts out with Maggie Wylie's (Helen Hayes') brothers pacing the floor worrying about what is to become of their baby sister given that she has reached the age of 27 and is unmarried with no prospects. They end up making a deal with a burglar (Aherne as John Shand) to finance his education IF at the end of five years he marries Maggie if she is still single and willing. You see, Shand was a student who ran out of money and has been breaking into the Wylie home every night to read the books they have in their extensive library - and nothing else.

Shand agrees, but manages to waste the money, never gets his education, and the five years is up. A bargain is a bargain to a Scot, and although he wants to run for a seat in Parliament he decides to go for a job in the local foundry instead so he and the still unmarried Maggie can be wed. Maggie insists he go for the Parliament seat instead. He does and wins, due a great deal to Maggie's help.

Now Maggie very much knows that John does not love her, although she seems like she has loved him since he first stood up at a town meeting

  • prior to the burglary discovery - and insulted the entire town, AND

her brother -something the all too outwardly passive Maggie seems itching to have done, but is glad to have John do it instead.

The complication in all of this is two crises collide. John (and Maggie) believe the nation's troubles can be averted by going off the gold standard, but John would have to threaten to resign his seat to make a meaningful stand, AND a beautiful woman of poise has actually captured John's heart - and Maggie knows about it. How does this work out? Watch and find out.

The funny part about all of this is how really clueless the men are in this film which is almost feminist in nature. Maggie's brothers are so concerned about her marital status when none of them are married themselves and are well into what was then called "old bachelorhood". To top it off all three are buffoons. Maggie seems to know this and loves them anyways. The same could be said of Shand, since Maggie is his strength and he seems blind to that, not that he treats her rudely.

I recommend this one. It is very quirky and fun for an early post production code film.

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