Aline McMahon is Bertha, a "side street" furrier. She's not one of the big outfits so she has to be cagey and good with the customers to make a respectable but not great living, and she does. She meets a down and out sailor, Tim (Paul Kelly). She's lonely, he needs room and board, she offers him a job, he takes it. It isn't long before it's obvious he's just milking the situation and doing as little as possible to earn his keep, probably sensing Bertha's loneliness will keep a roof over his head. He strengthens his position even more when he marries her. Now Bertha is being made out to be "a spinster", even though she looks all of 35 and has a very natural beauty if you ask me. All of this dialogue about her being a plain Jane perplexes me. She's a woman alone in the world who is busy trying to keep a business afloat and doesn't have time to dress up in her own fancy merchandise.
After marriage, Tim is kind enough to Bertha, but a new sweetie soon has his eye in the person of Marguerite (Ann Dvorak). He's thinking about heading back out to sea but then he finds a bill for an obstetrician visit among Bertha's things and suddenly becomes a changed man. He makes as close to a confession to Bertha as you'd ever get of a slicky boy like Tim, and Bertha says she's known all along and forgives him. Tim breaks it off with Marguerite, determined to turn over a new leaf, but there's one thing with Marguerite he can't break off.
I'll let you watch and see how this all works out. This film really gives you a feeling of how the long-term lowered expectations of the average man and woman on the street during the Great Depression affected their behavior. Men and women unable to get work attaching themselves to one of the opposite sex that was financially OK just for survival, some of the wealthier people taking advantage of the situation, what happened to cast-off women in cases when the wealthy man didn't want them anymore. Highly recommended.
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