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The Purchase Price (1932)

TV-PG | | Comedy, Drama | 23 July 1932 (USA)
A torch singer becomes a mail-order bride for a farmer.


William A. Wellman


Arthur Stringer (story "The Mud Lark"), Robert Lord (screen play)

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Complete credited cast:
Barbara Stanwyck ... Joan Gordon
George Brent ... Jim Gilson
Lyle Talbot ... Eddie Fields
Hardie Albright ... Don Leslie
David Landau ... Bull McDowell
Murray Kinnell ... Forgan
Leila Bennett ... Emily


Torch singer Joan Gordon, tiring of her relationship with small-time hood and racketeer Eddie Fields, flees to Montreal and becomes the mail-order bride of down-to-earth farmer Jim Gilson. Their chance for happiness is threatened by Gilson's own stubborness, a lecherous neighbor and the reappearance of Fields. Written by Doug Sederberg <vornoff@sonic.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


She took another woman's place on her wedding night..!


Comedy | Drama


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

23 July 1932 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Night Flower See more »


Box Office


$202,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


(TCM print)

Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


During the wheat-burning scene a stand-in was used instead of Barbara Stanwyck, but she didn't think the stand-in acted as the character so Stanwyck decided to play it herself. This resulted in her getting some burns on her legs, but she never complained. See more »


When Barbara Stanwick gets off the train in North Dakota the terrain is very mountainous. North Dakota is on the Great Plains - very flat. See more »


Joan Gordon, aka Francine La Rue: Have you ever heard a woman scream?
Jim Gilson: No.
Joan Gordon, aka Francine La Rue: Well, you're going to.
Jim Gilson: Huh?
Joan Gordon, aka Francine La Rue: 'Cause I've been dying to do it for months. Ahhhhhhhhhhh!
See more »


Featured in Barbara Stanwyck: Fire and Desire (1991) See more »


(With You on My Mind, I Find) I Can't Write the Words
Written by Gerald Marks and Buddy Fields
Played as dance music and sung by an uncredited tenor in the opening scene
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User Reviews

Warner Bros. Programmer with Yet Another Excellent Stanwyck Performance
21 January 2012 | by HarlowMGMSee all my reviews

THE PURCHASE PRICE is one of ten films Barbara Stanwyck for Warner Bros. in the early 1930's when she was under non-exclusive contracts to the studio and Columbia Pictures. The Columbia films are often quite good, several of them directed by Frank Capra, but most of the Warner Bros. she made in this period are little more than potboilers, films rarely running over 70 minutes with few ambitions. This title is among Stanwyck's weakest films although it is raised immensely by a typically fine Stanwyck performance making it much more interesting and appealing than it should be.

Stanwyck stars as Joan Gordon, a sexy nightclub torch singer who is the mistress of married bootlegger Lyle Talbot. This duo apparently have quite an open relationship as Talbot isn't too bothered by the fact that Stanwyck is also seeing society boy Hardie Albright who wants to marry her. When Albright finds out about Stanwyck's relationship with Talbot he dumps her, crushing Barbara's dream of a quiet life as somebody's wife. Wanting to get away from Talbot's lair, she skittles to Montreal and begins performing under a new name. While in Canada, she befriends hotel maid Leia Bennett whom she later learns is about to become a "mail order bride" - and has used Stanwyck's picture to net her fiancée! When Stanwyck sees some of Talbot's associates she knows it's only a matter of time before he comes up to Canada to get her so she offers Bennett $100 in exchange for letting her take her place as the wife-to-be ("Wow, a $100" Leia exclaims, "I can get a city husband for that!") Stanwyck then travels to North Dakota to meet "her" groom, poor farmer George Brent. They are married but the wedding night proves to be a disaster with Barbara brushing off George's crude attempt at love making. Infuriated, Brent refuses to have anything to do with after this on a personal level, Stanwyck simply becomes a wife on all levels except romantically.

This little film moves quickly and is entertaining but incredibility is all over the film. One little forgotten tidbit is that while Leia Bennett passed off Stanwyck's photo as her own she apparently used her own name but Barbara uses her real name of Joan while in North Dakota! And just why Stanwyck would so harshly reject Brent after no doubt having been pawed by scores of men far more rougher and less attractive? It makes about as much sense as Brent's willful refusal to forgive her for this one night of rejection (wouldn't many a man in this era have found a new bride less than at ease their first night together?) when it's clear she soon wants to make amends. There's also the little fact that Stanwyck is portrayed as a straight shooter, early in the film she insists to Albright she would have told him about Talbot - yet she doesn't give Brent a clue about the relationship or her past until Talbot shows up unannounced sometime into their marriage!

Barbara Stanwyck fully earns her reputation as an outstanding actress, she always seems sincere and real even in this silly little story. She's also stunningly beautiful in scenes where she is presented "naturally" without city artifice and heavy makeup. The big surprise for me was George Brent's excellent performance. Not known for being one of the more expressive of actors, Brent seems perfectly cast as the inexpressive, reserved farmer and was seldom more attractive (although being cast as about the only non-coarse hick caricature among the North Dakotans perhaps helps). He is terrific here and I can't remember him giving a better film performance. Lyle Talbot is also very good looking and so good-natured one has to wonder just why Stanwyck keeps running away from him unless she really DOES want to be just a typical housewife. Most of the supporting roles are fairly small and in bits one can see silent favorites Snub Pollard (as one of the locals) and Mae Busch (as an earthy blonde on the train with Stanwyck also in route to her mail-order man).

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