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A stenographer who works for a lawyer falls in love with and marries a wealthy young man. His family has the marraige annulled, after which she gives birth to a child. Her former boss helps her out to ensure the child's welfare, which starts gossip that she is a "kept woman."Written by
This film written and directed by Edmund Goulding is one that Joseph Kennedy bankrolled for his mistress, Gloria Swanson. This isn't surprising though I was surprised to see his name emblazoned on the screen at the beginning, saying "Joseph P. Kennedy Presents". Interesting.
When the film begins, a lawyer's stenographer, Marion (Swanson) is excited...a wealthy young man just asked her to marry him. Soon they are off on their honeymoon living it up...but not for long. His family arrived unexpectedly and demand he get their marriage annulled. He's a weak idiot and agrees...leaving Marion in the lurch. The lurch is much worse than she first suspected, as she later learns she's pregnant!!
Months pass. Marion is desperate as she's tried unsuccessfully to work, pay a sitter and pay all the bills...but there just isn't enough of her nor enough money. She refuses to seek out the father's family for help due to her pride. After all, her 'loving husband' dumped her and didn't give her a second thought. And, when she finally breaks down and is about to ask them for help, it's horrible timing and she walks out. In desperation, finally takes her boss, Mr. Ferguson (Purnell Pratt) into her confidence about her dilemma. He's a very decent sort and offers to help. What's next? See this soap opera-like film for yourself.
Generally, Swanson is very good in this film though she occasionally had a tendency to over-act in a style that was not too unusual for the day. When she became upset, she tended to sound overwrought and a bit silly. However, inexplicably, they also have her sing a few times and her singing is downright painful to listen to! My advice is that if you are watching this on DVD or YouTube, speed through the songs...your ears will thank you for this. Oddly, she was also nominated for this performance. Either tastes have drastically changed or there was some sort of fix going on with the Oscars--and the early days of Oscar, this sort of thing happened quite often. If someone with money and power wanted a win or a nomination, this COULD have been arranged...like it was in getting Wallace Beery the Oscar for "The Champ" only a few years later.
So is the film any good in spite of Swanson's occasional lapses in acting as well as her singing (which, incidentally sounds like someone being tortured)? Well, yes and no. It is entertaining but probably played much better back in the day. When seen today, the film appears dated...even when compared to other early talkies. It's interesting, it held my interest but it's also a film folks who are not familiar with early talking pictures will quickly dismiss. For 1929, it's decent and watchable...hence my initial score of 6. One reviewer described the film as 'corny'...and that's reasonable though I still did enjoy it. However, once the film ended (or should have ended) it kept going and tacked on an unnecessary happy ending...for which I have reduced the score to 5.
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