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Cynthia is married to Steve and is a selfish hard woman. She decides where they will live, who they will see and even gets rid of Dora, the nanny who raised Steve and is now raising their daughter Ellen. When Steve divorce's Cynthia, even his mother is on Cynthia's side. While pleading a case in Washington, Steve meets a woman named Maris and falls for her. Maris does not know if she is going to the altar or the chopping block, but they marry and come back to his hometown. Unfortunately, Maris is the outsider, and being a small town where Cynthia and Steve grew up, everyone is Cynthia's friend and not Maris. Cynthia will use every occasion, every trick, including Ellen, to try to ruin the life that Steve has with Maris. Written by
Tony Fontana <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This is a very efficiently directed movie: so efficient, indeed, that there is not enough character friction or time for witty lines of dialogue to make things interesting. Mary Astor is the manipulative ex-wife, using Herbert Marshall's love of their daughter to control his life. Virginia Bruce is the supportive new wife who knows precisely what is going on and bides her time, making happy noises until Mary Astor can be unmasked. And Herbert Marshall is the brilliant lawyer who doesn't have a clue. The rest of the cast acts like it's a road show troupe of THE WOMEN. Indeed, several of the cast would be prominently featured in that movie when MGM made it the following year.
This is a talented lead trio. Too bad they're not used to advantage here. Mary Astor is now best known for her role as Bridget O'Shaugnessy in John Huston's MALTESE FALCON, but she was a great screen actress, capable of stealing scenes from anyone and seems to have slept with everyone but William Haines. Virginia Bruce was a capable actress who just never seems to have made a great movie before her career began to slip. Herbert Marshall was a fine screen actor who survived into the 1960s. Adept at comedy (TROUBLE IN PARADISE, BREAKFAST FOR TWO), he was just moving into the supporting-the-female-star phase of his career. Here he seems to be splitting the support, caught between two good dramatic leads. Go look at TROUBLE IN PARADISE. Seen it? See it again.
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