When Ladies Meet (1941)
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The four actors make the movie much better than the script. Garson and Crawford strike sparks off each other in every scene they share. Herbert Marshall is suitably smooth and sleazy. But it's Robert Taylor in a role involving physical comedy whose work is the most impressive. As it turns out, he is the person most grounded in reality--and the hidden hand behind everything.
Everything has the expected MGM gloss--extravagant costumes, beautiful sets, excellent photography. Highly recommended.
Garson did an outstanding job in this film. Here MGM's big female stars (the older of the famous stars) are set to play opposite each other. One fighting to get the man, while the other fights to keep him. It is an amazing transition film, foreshadowing Crawford's replacement by Garson in a smooth and flattering setting to both of their incredible skills.
You can't compare their acting styles to each other when they are so different. "When Ladies Meet" is a showcase for both of their styles and they compliment each other.
This is a classic. I only wish they would put it out on DVD.
Robert Taylor was also excellent, playing the mischievous suitor, comically bent on winning Joan Crawford's Mary Howard. I had previously only seen him melodrama, so watching him play a comedic role was very refreshing.
The story is a bit slow, but it picks up when Crawford and Garson meet towards the end of the picture. The dialog there is smart and thought provoking, and the talent of Garson really shines through.
Not a great movie, but worth a rental to catch some good acting from two of the studio era's greatest stars.
Taking over the roles in the first film version played by Ann Harding and Myrna Loy are Joan Crawford and Greer Garson. Crawford's a novelist who's being given the full courtship by her publisher Herbert Marshall. This is an old game for Marshall who keeps two timing his wife Greer Garson who's perennially taking him back.
But we've got a fourth in the mix here in the person of playboy Robert Taylor. Taylor's taking over for Robert Montgomery and while he doesn't quite have Montgomery's light touch for drawing room comedy, still puts over his part with aplomb.
Still this film is a battle for the women and I'd have to declare it a draw. Crawford too is a bit out of her league, she's going for a part that her rival Norma Shearer would have played let alone Ann Harding in the first version. But Garson is very well cast as the ever forgiving wife.
And Herbert Marshall? I can't think of a more dignified philanderer ever in screen history. He plays it as noble and as righteous as Horace Giddens in The Little Foxes where he was a wronged party.
This version of When Ladies Meet is not a bad one and two of the stars are showing a bit of range in not playing parts they normally would be in.
Like Norma Shearer's vehicle, "Her Cardboard Lover," a year later, this film looks and plays like a '30s leftover. Everyone is very good, and if Robert Taylor's broader attempts at comedy are a little forced, his physical comedy is quite funny, the scene in the boat being one of the best. Unlike his 20th Century Fox counterpart, Tyrone Power, Taylor was uncomplicated and not very ambitious. Devastatingly handsome, he was content at MGM for over 20 years - his big complaint once he was out of there was that he didn't know how to make dinner reservations. MGM would force Crawford out with bombs such as "Under Suspicion" two years later, but here, she gets top billing and does a good job as a woman who still has her romantic illusions. While Crawford and Taylor have comic moments, Herbert Marshall's role has none - he's deadly serious and oh, so sincere as he breathes his love for Mary.
But the show belongs to Greer Garson,. She has the best and the most sympathetic role as a woman who, despite numerous affairs, has loved and clung to her man. This and the constant talking make the movie somewhat dated - what woman would put up with such a serial philanderer after all (or, rather, admit to it) - but her character is extremely likable, her words heartfelt, her pain palpable, and she's stunning to look at as well.
Definitely worth seeing for the wonderful stars but not up to the usual quality of films these actors did. MGM was obviously going through a transition and recycling old material when the '40s hit. I think the 1933 version of this was probably superior if only due to it being more of its time.
In both versions, the lady of the country house is something of a wonder - Spring Byington here. I like the Jimmy part a lot, and thought both actors did him well. He's the kind of guy who makes a wonderful friend, though he could get on your nerves at times. He's a young man who will settle down and make a good husband, reliable and good company along the way. Woodruff was an older man who hadn't settled down, self-centered, made a bad husband and rather a dullard actually.
I think the sorting out between the women worked for both of them. The wife shook off the dead weight or drew her line anyway; the "girl friend" woke up from her naive daydream. We hope the husband woke up as well. Looks like Jimmy has a chance to come out on top as well!
What's there to be so cynical about?
It is the long conversation between Crawford and Garson that stands out in this light-hearted romantic drama with definite comic overtones where wife and girlfriend (Crawford is certainly more important to Marshall than just a mistress) bond, discover the truth and come to some conclusions. The men too learn a thing or two about the women they love, loathe or cheat on, so everybody manages to grow up a little.
Rather dicey in the exploration of Byington's seemingly live-in relationship with a man she isn't married to. This is a rare example of how writers managed to get away with certain details that were overlooked by the very tough production code. Byington's dizzy Dora can be quite annoying at times, but ultimately you like her as well because she means well. Taylor, though, plays a truly meddlesome Lothario and the result, at least for me, was that I didn't want to see his character end up with anyone when everything comes out. It is Crawford and Garson who shine the most, their pairing obviously more congenial off-screen than Crawford's was with Shearer during the making of "The Women". The respect their characters have for each other during their introductory scenes shines through their admiration for each other personally.
A bit livelier than the original 1933 version, it focuses more on the light-heartedness here than the Ann Harding/Myrna Loy pairing did with that version's Noel Coward like drawing room comedy. That version featured a more memorable performance by the hostess character (Faye Bainter) who didn't play her like a dumbbell. The country setting of Byington's old barn turned into a country home is the visual highlight of the film, with a huge waterwheel churning water into the man-made pool, shrubbery surrounding the house and pond, and a quaint interior which is truly a delight to explore. This weekend in the country would be a delight just for that.
The lines are mostly trite and it is amazing that that Rachel Crothers penned this light weight nonsense.
A sense that LB Mayer's days were numbered sets in during MGM's golden years. Dumping Crawford for people like Garson and Garland was, in the end, not the wisest move and one that his bosses did not agree with. By the time LB Mayer was fired by MGM in 1951, both Garson and Garland were gone and never worked much in films again (I am a big Garland fan, but these are facts). Crawford, on the other hand, went on to out work all of her contemporary actors and had a fairly diverse film career lasting from 1925's silent days well into the mid 1970s.
Had Mayer given Crawford Mrs. Miniver and Random Harvest as he should have done, MGM would have seen Crawford win the Oscar as opposed to WB.
In 1946, when Mildred Pierce premiered, Mayer tried hard to get JC back to MGM ("Why aren't WE making films like this with actresses like you??"). Thankfully, she was savvy enough to stay with WB.
Crawford, a book writer, has designs on the editor, a play-boy played with little relish by Herbert Marshall. His early scenes are very stiff-like. He needed to breakout as he did with Bette Davis in "The Little Foxes."
Taylor showed a flair for comedy but he is often silly. Handsome as the day is long, this romantic idol obviously smoked himself to death with his constant puffing throughout the film. No wonder he had a premature death, at age 59, in 1969.
Byington is humorous but a little too much to take during the thunderstorm sequence. Her churlish ditsy behavior would have been appropriate had she been a munchkin in "The Wizard of Oz."
It is with the meeting of Crawford and Garson that the picture begins to show dramatic depth. Cad Taylor has arranged it so that Garson can discover that Crawford has been having an affair with an unfaithful equally cad Marshall. It is only when that Taylor discovers that Garson is married to Crawford that she finally discovers ethics and ends the affair. We needed more of a fighting Crawford and not one who caves in to a lovely Garson. The latter acts like she is in rehearsal for "Mrs. Miniver" that followed in 1942.
If you get past Joan Crawford non-acting, and Herbert Marshall stiffness, then the movie is rather funny. Greer Garson and Robert Taylor carry this movie, if is rather funny, but I can't understand why any woman would prefer Herbert Marshall over the suave and good looking Robert Taylor. You ladies reading this review, please explain that to me. Even though I like this movie, I think the acting in earlier version was better especially Myrna Loy's acting. She is a better actress than Joan Crawford, at least in these two similar movies.
This movie is a two woman in love with the same man Herbert Marshall (Rogers Woodruff), Greer Garson (Clare) is his wife, and Joan Crawford (Mary) is his lover. Why would these two beautiful women love this stiff man, I don't know, especially when they could both have Robert Taylor. Robert Taylor (Jimmy) is Joan Crawford's (Mary) old boyfriend, who realized that Herbert Marshall (Clare's husband, Rogers Woodruff) is not in love with Mary, he just wanted to sleep with her, he warns Mary, but she don't believe him, so he introduce Mary to Clare without telling Mary that Clare is Rogers Woodruf's wife, whom he Rogers Woodruff still loves. Once Mary finds out that Rogers Woodruff was lying to her, and only using her, she stated she is ashamed of her life and ashamed for sleeping with him, she also realized that the person who really loves her and really cares for her is Jimmy, you guess it. Jimmy finally gets her girlfriend back, who ends up being his wife, who will give him the six kids he wants, or maybe only two.
The film begins with a writer (Joan Crawford) all giddy because she's fallen in love with a man (Herbert Marshall). The problem, however, is that he's married! And the man who inexplicably wants Crawford (Robert Taylor) decides the best way to break up this elicit romance is to introduce the "other woman" to the sweet and very, very long-suffering wife (Greer Garson). However, there are many, many problems with the plot:
1. Why would Marshall want Crawford? Garson is a lovely wife and generally played Mary Poppins-like wives that are "practically perfect in every way" in all her films.
2. Why would Taylor want a woman who is having an affair with a married man?
3. Why would Garson put up with Marshall when she knows about his many infidelities?
4. Why would the two women handle the affair so civilly and nicely? While not every wife would "get Jerry Springer" on the other woman, almost none would be as sickeningly sweet, forgiving and understanding. And, for that matter, the other woman by her very nature is selfish--why would she suddenly feel guilty?
5. Why would the audience want to see such a tame "altercation"? There were no fireworks....nothing!
Overall, an incredibly dull film with lovely acting (particularly by Garson) and a nice polish. So, it looks good but is pretty empty. And, now that I think about it, a lot like the similarly dull "The Grass is Greener".
Writer is in love with her womanizer publisher who is already married.
The writer's boy friend for his own motives sets the writer up to meet the publishers' wife with interesting consequences.
The picture starts slowly but gets a up a head of steam and:
I expected an explosive climax, but this is not that kind of film, nevertheless a clever story with an intelligent script.
In my opinion the 2 male leads ought to have switched roles.In any event an enjoyable and watchable movie deserving:
The author of the novel, I learned here at IMDb, has many other works. That doesn't surprise me.
There were snatches where both Garson and Crawford were good, but they were just moments. Taylor and Marshall left a lot to be desired, but Byington was adorable as usual, as the flibbertigibbet. Even when she overdoes it, you know better is coming fast.