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The Easiest Way (1931)

Passed | | Drama, Romance | 7 February 1931 (USA)
Growing up in a poor working-class family, Laura decides not to marry the boy-next-door and instead accepts wealthy, older Will Brockton's invitation to move in with him. After falling in ... See full summary »


Jack Conway


Edith Ellis (adaptation), Eugene Walter (play)




Complete credited cast:
Constance Bennett ... Laura Murdock
Adolphe Menjou ... William Brockton
Robert Montgomery ... Jack Madison
Anita Page ... Peg Murdock
Marjorie Rambeau ... Elfie St. Clair
J. Farrell MacDonald ... Ben Murdock
Clara Blandick ... Agnes Murdock
Clark Gable ... Nickolas (Nick) Feliki


Growing up in a poor working-class family, Laura decides not to marry the boy-next-door and instead accepts wealthy, older Will Brockton's invitation to move in with him. After falling in love with young up-and-coming newsman Jack Madison she leaves Brockton to wait for Madison's return from a long assignment. She runs out of money and becomes desperate, returning again to Brockton who, upon learning of Madison's sudden arrival, tells Laura she must inform Madison of her living situation or he will. Written by Doug Sederberg <vornoff@sonic.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A SOUL FOR SALE But this man bought her body and forgot her soul! Then Love came along-was it too late? (Print Ad- Troy Times, ((Troy NY)) 25 April 1931) See more »


Drama | Romance


Passed | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


This film was a success at the box office, earning MGM a profit of $193,000 (over $3M in 2019) according to studio records. See more »


When Jack catches Laura packing, she folds the same item of clothing twice between shots. See more »


Peg: Say, where was you hidin' last night?
Nick: Don't say a word, I was written a speech.
Peg: A what?
Nick: Yeah! The Laundrymen's Fraternal Association is giving a banquet Saturday night. The old man is gonna make a speech.
Laura Murdock: What old man?
Nick: Mine! I'm learned it to him.
See more »


Referenced in Caught Plastered (1931) See more »


Silent Night, Holy Night
(1818) (uncredited)
Music by Franz Xaver Gruber
Played as background music at Christmas time
See more »

User Reviews

Taboo or not Taboo, that is the question.
7 December 2013 | by hitchcockthelegendSee all my reviews

The Easiest Way is directed by Jack Conway and adapted to screenplay by Edith Ellis from the 1909 play of the same name written by Eugene Walter. It stars Contance Bennett, Adolphe Menjou, Robert Montgomery, Clark Gable and Anita Page.

Obviously tame by today's standards, it's still not hard to see why The Easiest Way ruffled feathers back in the day. Essentially the plot finds Bennett as Laura Murdock, a poor shop girl who grows so tired of sharing a cramped tenement home with her large family, where three to a bed is the norm, she lands herself a rich older man (Menjou) and becomes a kept mistress. This ostracises her greatly and stuck in a loveless relationship, she's in a bad place emotionally. Hope comes in the form of Jack Madison (Montgomery), and the two hit it off right away and fall in love, but can Laura leave behind the wealth for the sake of love? Just what is the easiest way?

And so it is, running at under 75 minutes, pic gets away with what it can by ensuring the taboo nature of the story centre is cunningly evident. Conway and Mescall show some deft ambition with mobile camera work and nice framing shots out in the exteriors. Performances are all credible, with Gable serving early notice of what was to come in his career, and the ending, one of many filmed as the makers searched for tonal closure, works just fine to linger as a bittersweet aftertaste.

Montgomery isn't in it nearly enough given that he is playing one of the key characters, and the big issue of women striding out for their right to challenge society's stone-age ideals is inadequately unfurled. Other than that this is a thoroughly enjoyable piece of of pre-code classic cinema. 7/10

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Release Date:

7 February 1931 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Easiest Way See more »


Box Office


$310,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
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