6.8/10
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46 user 29 critic

The Divorcee (1930)

When a woman discovers that her husband has been unfaithful to her, she decides to respond to his infidelities in kind.

Director:

Robert Z. Leonard (uncredited)

Writers:

Ursula Parrott (based on a novel by), Nick Grinde (treatment) (as Nick Grindé) | 2 more credits »
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Won 1 Oscar. Another 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Norma Shearer ... Jerry
Chester Morris ... Ted
Conrad Nagel ... Paul
Robert Montgomery ... Don
Florence Eldridge ... Helen
Helene Millard ... Mary
Robert Elliott ... Bill Baldwin
Mary Doran ... Janice Meredith
Tyler Brooke Tyler Brooke ... Hank
Zelda Sears Zelda Sears ... Hannah
George Irving ... Dr. Bernard
Judith Wood ... Dorothy (as Helen Johnson)
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Storyline

Jerry and Ted are young, in love, and part of the New York 'in-crowd'. Jerry's decision to marry Ted crushes a yearning Paul. Distraught Paul gets drunk and wrecks his car, disfiguring young Dorothy's face in the process. Out of pity, Paul marries Dorothy. Years later, the apparent perfect marriage of Ted and Jerry falls apart from infidelity on both sides. Inwardly unhappy, popular Jerry lives a party life while Ted sinks into a life of alcoholism. Jerry then runs into Paul, who still loves her. After spending time together with Jerry, Paul plans to divorce Dorothy. When Jerry sees Dorothy again, she has second thoughts about where her life is heading. Written by Gary Jackson <garyjack5@cogeco.ca>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

A Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer All Talking Picture!

Genres:

Romance | Drama

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

19 April 1930 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ex-Wife See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$340,691 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(copyright length) | (Turner library print)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Even Norma Shearer's maid told her not to take the part, playing a bad woman. See more »

Goofs

1928 was Jerry's 3rd Wedding Anniversary, yet, the band in the nightclub/speakeasy is playing "Happy Days are Here Again" which was not composed for another year. See more »

Quotes

Theodore 'Ted' Martin: Porter, how long do we stop at the next station? Long enough to telephone?
Second Porter: Yes sir, if you ain't gonna talk to nobody too far. It's supposed to stop there about six minutes.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Hollywood Hist-o-Rama: Norma Shearer (1962) See more »

Soundtracks

Happy Days Are Here Again
(1929) (uncredited)
Music by Milton Ager
Lyrics by Jack Yellen
Played at the wedding party of Helen and Bill Baldwin
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A Neglected Landmark, More Often Discussed Than Actually Seen
12 April 2005 | by gftbiloxiSee all my reviews

THE Divorcée was created in the first wave of "all talking pictures," an era in which directors, writers, and actors often struggled to find styles appropriate to the new technology. At the time, it was hailed as a masterpiece of realism; today, however, it is a film more often discussed than actually seen, for there is no escaping the fact that the film is stylistically dated. Even so, it remains a landmark of its era--and given its historical importance it should be seen by any one with a serious interest in the history of American cinema.

The film is "pre-code," which is to say that it was made during a handful of years in the early 1930s when Hollywood's self-censorship was more the subject of jokes than of reality, and THE Divorcée was among the first Hollywood talkies to openly address both female sexuality and the sexual double standard. The story finds Jerry (Norma Shearer) and Ted (Chester Morris) happily married--but on their third anniversary Jerry discovers that Ted has been unfaithful, something that Ted dismisses with the words "it doesn't mean a thing." Angry and hurt, Jerry responds by having a one night stand of her own--and then is astonished by Ted's hypocrisy when he declares that her infidelity "isn't the same thing." The same story has been told so often that today we take it for granted, but in 1930 it was extremely controversial, and the cast plays it out with considerable intensity. Most notable is star Norma Shearer; although changing styles have left her sadly neglected, in her own era she was considered among the finest actresses on the screen and noted for her unusual beauty, memorable speaking voice, and tremendous star quality. In THE Divorcée she gives it everything she has, and her power is such that most viewers will find she quickly transcends the stylistically dated aspects of both the film and her own performance.

Over the years I've seen the film several times--most impressively on the big screen, where the larger than life performances seem considerably less affected--and I've enjoyed it quite a bit every time. If you are interested in exploring early 1930s Hollywood films, you could do considerably worse than to begin with THE Divorcée, which was my own introduction to that film era. If you are already interested in early 1930s film and have never seen it... this one belongs on your shelf, and no excuses.

Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT


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