Once a Lady is a 1931 American Pre-Code drama film directed by Guthrie McClintic and starring Ruth Chatterton, Ivor Novello and Jill Esmond. The film, produced and distributed by Paramount ...
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Helen Jerome Eddy
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Louis J. Gasnier
Once a Lady is a 1931 American Pre-Code drama film directed by Guthrie McClintic and starring Ruth Chatterton, Ivor Novello and Jill Esmond. The film, produced and distributed by Paramount Pictures, is a remake of the Pola Negri silent film Three Sinners (1928). The film was the final attempt by British matinée idol Novello to establish himself in Hollywood.
This was Ivor Novello's only appearance in a Hollywood feature film. Hugely successful in the UK as a film and theatre performer, dramatist and songwriter and lionized as the epitome of modern male beauty, he was signed up by MGM and installed in a house in Malibu. The money was good, but frustratingly the opportunities to work turned out to be few and far between. Producers and directors felt he was too effete for American audiences - they preferred the more rugged masculinity of Gary Cooper - so instead of appearing in front of the camera, he was relegated to back-room work, such as contributing the dialogue for the first Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan movie, Tarzan the Ape Man (1932). He is supposed to have come up with the dialogue for the immortal "You Tarzan, Me Jane" scene. There was plenty of time to party and he spent a great deal of it with his Hollywood best friends, Joan Crawford and 'Douglas Fairbanks Jr'. He also mixed with the gay set that included William Haines and Lilyan Tashman. He struck up an enduring friendship with Greta Garbo (he could speak a few words of Swedish after a propaganda visit to Stockholm during WWI) and he may have had a romance with Ramon Navarro among others. Knowing he was keen to appear as an actor in a motion picture, his close friend Ruth Chatterton suggested that Paramount hire him for Once a Lady (1931), in which she was to star. Not long afterwards Novello talked Irving Thalberg into suspending his contract, and he headed back to the UK. In his luggage he had the manuscripts of at least two new plays, written during his spare-time in Hollywood, and soon they would be big hits in London's West End. Once reestablished back in Britain, he embarked on a brand new phase of his career, as the writer, composer and star of spectacular musicals for the Theatre Royal Drury Lane which would make him one of the British Stage's greatest box-office draws of the 30s, 40s and early 50s. See more »
Poor Ruth Chatterton! This film is a prime example of why she left Paramount to go to Warners. She plays a Free thinking Russian who marries a stuffy British man. The family is naturally displeased and show it. They have a daughter. Ruth is indiscreet with another brit,played by Ivor Novello and is of course run out of England. Being that this is before the code she doesn't end up in the gutter but wealthy in Paris. The years fly by and the daughter now grown ends up in Paris, desperately in need of guidance. The plot and dialogue were dated even in 1931. What makes this film is the really wonderful performance by Ruth Chatterton. She makes up believe this film and plays the character of Anna almost like she is real. She is full of emotion, she makes mistakes and accepts them and accepts the lot in life she is given. It is easy to see why a young Bette Davis was in awe of her. This is a rarely seen film but one worth watching for Miss Chatterton.
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