The beautiful and frivolous wife of a plantation owner in antebellum Louisiana, proves unsatisfactory at running the household, leading her serious-minded husband to enlist the help of her unmarried sister.
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'The toy wife' or how to spoil your own life and the lives of others by being fickle and frivolous. This is the story of Gilberte, a beautiful sixteen-year-old girl who charms, attracts and seduces all the men she meets. Back in Louisiana after a stay in France, she will steal her fiancé from her loving and beloved sister Louise. Once married with George, she will prove a poor mother for little Georgie, a poor manager of the plantation and an unfaithful wife. She indeed starts an affair with André, the dashing young man she actually loves. Tragedy will ensue. Written by
The play "Frou-frou" by Henri Meilhac and Ludovic Halévy opened in Paris, France on 30 October 1869. Its English adaptation, "Frou Frou," by Augustin Daly, opened in New York on 15 February 1870. See more »
Luise Rainer gives a beautiful performance as "The Toy Wife," a 1938 film. After she won two consecutive Oscars, roles for this beautiful, petite actress were difficult for MGM to find.
Here she plays Gilberte, a young woman known as Frou Frou, who comes back to Louisiana after living in France and captivates New Orleans. Her sister, Louise (Barbara O'Neill) is in love with George (Melvyn Douglas) but he falls for Frou Frou and marries her. They have a son, Georgie. Though George loves her, he has to admit that she is not much of a wife and mother. She's childlike herself, a playmate to her son, impractical, and an airhead.
George brings Louise to live with them and take care of the household and Georgie. Meanwhile, Frou Frou is rehearsing a play with a man who is in love with her, Andre (Robert Young). Over time, she realizes that Louise has taken over Georgie, and her husband, occupied with work, is less interested in her. When Louise receives a marriage proposal and turns it down, Frou Frou blows her top and lets her sister know what she really thinks of her. "You don't want your own husband and children, you want mine!" she screams. That night, she runs away with Andre, embittering George and putting Andre in danger.
This is a very good movie with a wonderful performance by Rainer, who is surrounded by an excellent cast. The costumes are gorgeous.
The character of Frou Frou is so sweet and loving, it's painful to see what a mess she makes of her life and the lives around her.
After Irving Thalberg's death, Rainer left Hollywood, dissatisfied with what Louis B. Mayer had to offer her. She married Clifford Odets and, after that ended, left the country. She married again, had a child, and continued to work on and off over the years, as late as 1997's The Gambler.
Luise Rainer was a great treasure unappreciated by MGM. She brought beauty and excellence in performance to everything she did. But MGM figured she had two Oscars so they could give her anything, and they did. She was miserable. But she liked this film very much, as well as her costar, Melvyn Douglas.
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