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Mary, a writer working on a novel about a love triangle, is attracted to her publisher. Her suitor Jimmy is determined to break them up; he introduces Mary to the publisher's wife without telling Mary who she is. Written by
Diana Hamilton <email@example.com>
Rachel Crothers was one of the United States' best playwrights for decades. "He and She" and "When Ladies Meet" are her two best-known works. There was a good earlier version of this work; this remake has the benefit of stars of the caliber of Greer Garson as the wronged wife, Joan Crawford as the girl who wrongs her, Herbert Marshall as Garson's husband and Robert Taylor as the young man who loves Crawford. Robert Z. Leonard directed the film, with his usual skill in getting first-rate performances from his actors. The screenplay, adapted from the fine play by Anita Loos and S.K. Lauren, seldom seems as if it had been a stage work; and the scenes are opened out to include sailing and other outside scenes. The film boasts another lovely set by Cedric Gibbons, and some dense B/W style provided by the photography team. Music is by Bronislau Kaper, and in the talented cast along with the aforementioned quartet of well-cast actors the director gave us Spring Byington and several other good choices. But it is the plot in this highly-intelligent and understated contest between two women that drives every action; the theme of this important look at personal relations and the rules of commitment in partnerships is honesty--to oneself, and to one's partner. Garson thought she had a good marriage; Marshall may not have thought so, but he had no real reason to cheat, except to pretend to be Crawfor'd infallible mentor--a very unhealthy misassumption. Crawford thinks she is modern because she does not care why she is making herself momentarily happy; and Taylor loves Crawford for what she should be, not what she is. Byington, older and wiser, has taken on a 'husband' who is content to be her husband, and she has settled for his good points and agreed to put up with the rest on equal terms. The gimmick that works as a plot device here, cleverly, is that the two women in Marshall's life have never met; and when they do, Crawford still does not know who Garson is--or that she know her for what she is... In their parts, Garson is powerful, wonderfully intelligent and strong; Crawford does her best but apart from matching her charisma she cannot begin to match Garson's ethical screen presence. Robert Taylor plays his part as callow, charmingly young, and it is one of his best in energy, approach and timing. Marshall is professional in his part, but a bit old or staid to play a part that really required a Warren William or Walter Pigeon. .The lighting, the set decorations by Edwin B. Willis and the costumes are a great asset also. This is a very underrated.and intelligent look at "modern marriage", c. 1941. The upshot of the film is that Marshall realizes what he about to lose and is smart enough to try to earn Garson's love again, and that Crawford realizes what she was about to do for momentary pleasure by pretense, without even having earned it--with the possibility that Taylor may become to her what she had been fantasizing Marshall might be. This is always an interesting narrative, a very compelling mix of dramatic and character- revealing screwball satire elements. Highly recommended
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