The Bride Walks Out (1936)
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The film begins with Raymond and Stanwyck thinking about marriage. Considering that there is no chemistry at all between them and they spend all their time arguing, when they go off to get married you can't help but wonder why! They seem to have nothing in common plus Raymond seems to live in complete denial about reality. While he goes through jobs right and left and is paid only $35 a week (not much by 1936 standards), he insists that when they marry that she MUST stay home and not work! As for Stanwyck, once she gets married (in the least romantic wedding scene ever filmed), she, too, learns to live in complete denial about reality. Though his paycheck is tiny, they live way outside their means and Stanwyck never mentions that they can't pay their bills--she pretends she's not only paid them off regularly but is putting money in the bank! Why?! Eventually, to bail them out of their financial mess, a rich guy (Young) pays off their debts and gives them money to live in a manner to which they simply should not be accustomed. Why would Young do this? It's obvious he's in love but she never reciprocated and it all makes him seem like a super-sap! Eventually when Raymond discovers Young's generosity, he stomps out--and they file for divorce! Huh?! Since this is a post-Code film, you know that somehow by the end Raymond and Stanwyck will get back together. But considering they both seem like idiots and demonstrate no love towards each other, you wonder why the heck the audience should care--I know I didn't.
In addition to the three leads, Ned Sparks and Helen Broderick are their for comic relief. However, for the most part, these two very snappy actors are given amazingly insipid lines and rarely are they particularly comical--when, with decent writing, they should be fun.
Oh, and in addition, there are a couple places in the film where the audience is told that a real man beats his wife every now and then! The first time occurs at the marriage license bureau when a cop tells Raymond and Stanwyck to stop arguing and that if he (Raymond) wants to beat her, it's okay with him as long as he waits to do it at home! Later, Stanwyck even suggests that if Raymond was a real man he get mad and slap her! Wow...
Overall, this film consists of impossible to believe and irrational characters from start to finish. They often come off as immature, selfish and very annoying. The film looks nice since it's a big studio production and some stars who were quite capable...and makes practically nothing with this! A big wasted opportunity.
The performances are delightful, but it's a slim story and then there's the business of this guy not wanting his wife to work. I normally don't have a problem watching films in the context of their times, but in this case, the husband seemed unreasonable to me. Ned Sparks and Helen Broderick are hilarious. Stanwyck is always fresh and sincere. Gene Raymond is attractive, but I've always failed to see why he was so important to MGM that Mayer forced Jeannette Macdonald to marry him. The film didn't really hold my interest, but Stanwyck is always worth seeing.
Mike Martin (Gene Raymond) is an engineer who basically nags model and long-time girlfriend Carolyn (Barbara Stanwyck) into marrying him. The arguments begin at their quickie civil marriage ceremony and continue as Mike's estimate that $35 a week is enough for them to get by on is incorrect. Plus no wife of his is going to work! It's a Martin tradition. Before this film is over I felt like if it was a Martin tradition to walk a tightrope strung between high rises on your 30th birthday Mike would be up there doing it. He's not exactly a deep thinker.
Meanwhile, Carolyn is stuck making Mike's maxims work. Mike gets to live the dream of supporting a wife that doesn't work, but his dream is really a mirage. Carolyn is the one that actually deals with overdue bills and the bill collectors coming to the door threatening repossession. After their furniture is repossessed and is only returned because wealthy friend Hugh McKenzie (Robert Young) pays the amount due - all happening before Mike gets home and thus without his knowledge - Carolyn decides to go to work so their budget will stretch and hide the fact from Mike. When Mike beats Carolyn home one day and discovers the truth, it is actually the knuckle-dragging groom that walks out.
All through the film there is the involvement of wealthy Hugh, who loves Carolyn but wants her to be happy whatever she decides. Let me tell you, Robert Young does not play a drunk well at all. In fact he's quite annoying as drunken partying Hugh. But when he plays a sober Hugh he's a stark and pleasant contrast to the Neanderthal Mike.
Now this is a 1936 production code era romance, so you know it's going to work itself out in some conventional way already, so I'll just let you watch and find out how that happens.
I give this five stars because Barbara Stanwyck makes almost any film watchable, plus there are the hilarious antics of Ned Sparks and Helen Broderick as Paul and Mattie Dodson, friends of the couple who don't seem to like each other at all and can't even remember what town in which they were married. When Carolyn asks them why they get married in the first place they say "because it was raining", whatever that means.
I would consider this film a take it or leave it proposition.
The film resembles a sitcom in that the humour arises out of the situations in which the characters find themselves rather than from any particularly witty dialogue. As another reviewer has pointed out, the main comic relief is provided by Billy Gilbert as the repo man and Ned Sparks as Michael's colleague Paul, but as Gilbert's party piece seems to be pretending to sneeze (in which he is joined in a duet by Barbara Stanwyck) and Sparks's speciality is talking out of the side of his mouth while holding a cigar firmly clamped between his jaws, I can only think that audiences of the thirties were more easily pleased than those of today would be.
The main problem with this film for a modern audience, however, is its outdated social attitudes. The jocular references to wife-beating, for example, do not seem tasteful or funny today. Although the film is fairly sympathetic to Carolyn's desire to work, a woman's job is seen not in terms of a fulfilling career but in terms of a way of providing pocket-money to keep herself in luxuries. There is also a racist joke when Carolyn's maid (about the only role open to black actresses in the thirties) remarks that black men are too idle to support themselves and prefer to live off their wives. The film as a whole seems very dated today. "Halliwell's Film Guide" describes it as "thin" but "pleasing". The first adjective may be apt; the second certainly is not. 4/10
Story of fashion-model married to $35/week surveyor, failing to make ends meet. He won't let her work, but she does anyway. She's tempted by rich playboy Robert Young. He's egged on by wife-hating Ned Sparks. Sparks, who delivers every line around a cigar stub, and Billy Gilbert, the repo man, steal every scene they are in.
Husband's refusal to see wife's point of view makes him look stupid, which was not the intent. Guess how it turns out? True lovers of this period have to learn to overlook this kind of sexism, I'm afraid.
Presumably in 1936 some viewers would have been sympathetic to Raymond's insistence that "No wife of mine is going to work." That's not the problem with this movie. The problem is that Raymond's character is pushy and arrogant and we just don't see any sparks between him and Stanwyck that would make us believe that she could find him tolerable, much less irresistible.
Anyway, Stanwyck stays home and keeps house, eventually getting behind on the bills to the point where she secretly goes out and starts modeling again. The bills are getting paid now and she can even afford to hire Hattie McDaniel to come in and cook.... But what will happen if Raymond finds out that she's working? Oh my.
Solid supporting actors do their best to cheer things up but they don't have much to work with. Ned Sparks and Helen Broderick play the wisecrack-spouting old married couple who hang out with Stanwyck and Raymond. Robert Young is a rich drunken playboy who hangs around trying to help.
Unfortunately, the strong cast and decent production values just can't keep this picture moving...it's one of those that seems longer than its 81 minutes.
SYNOPSIS: Working-class couple separate when wife has a yen for clothes and luxuries that husband cannot afford.
COMMENT: The film has its moments, thanks to an agreeable cast, fighting their way through a script that is not nearly as amusing or scintillating as it obviously thinks it is, plus some very attractive photography (e.g. the scene in the lightless apartment) - though Miss Stanwyck is not lit all that flatteringly.
Willie Best is prominently featured in the credits, though his part has been removed and is now limited to a two-shot of him entering the marriage bureau and a long shot of him in the background of same!
Unfortunately, the cast is also saddled with Ned Sparks, whose monotonous cigar-faced delivery of quite ordinary lines makes them seem even slower and less funny. This character just doesn't belong in what was doubtless conceived as a light comedy of manners. Gene Raymond is more animated than usual and Robert Young is very effective as a pestiferous playboy.
Should Stanwyck try a relationship with the perpetually tipsy Mr. Young or stick with husband Raymond - only time will tell Raymond gets deadpan comic support from Ned Sparks (as Paul Dodson) while Stanwyck converses with his wife Helen Broderick (as Mattie) and "mammy"-type maid Hattie McDaniel (as Mamie), who is scripted to foolishly mangle a quote from Abraham Lincoln. Billy Gilbert does his bit as an "Acme" furniture man and Charles Lane holds court, but nothing really lifts this comedy.
*** The Bride Walks Out (7/10/36) Leigh Jason ~ Barbara Stanwyck, Gene Raymond, Robert Young, Ned Sparks
** (out of 4)
Disappointing film from RKO has Barbara Stanwyck playing fashion model Carolyn who is courted by a blue collar working man (Gene Raymond). The two are married and he forces her to quit her job as he thinks they can survive on his $35-a-week paycheck but soon she goes to work behind his back and is courted by a rich man (Robert Young) who is in love with her. THE BRIDE WALKS OUT starts off pretty flat and just continues to go downhill from there. Despite the good cast there's really no life in this comedy-drama for a number of reasons but the biggest has to be the lack of chemistry between Stanwyck and Raymond. Not for a second did they feel like a real married couple and throughout the movie I had a hard time believing these two people would ever actually be together. Another problem is the screenplay, which for some reason makes the husband out to be the dumbest man I've seen from any Hollywood film of the 1930s. I watch dozens, if not hundreds, of films from this era and for the life of me I was struggling to come up with a dumber male character. The film has a very sexist attitude about it, which goes against many of the roles Stanwyck played throughout the decade but there are several bits of dialogue where it's said that for a man to be "manly" that he should hit a woman. Add on more sexist stuff including the fact that he doesn't believe women should work and that he's constantly doing and saying one dumb thing after another, the viewer really can't help but hate the guy and want to see Stanwyck get away from him. The one good thing in the film is the chemistry between Stanwyck and Young but you'll be disappointed in how the screenplay plays this off in the end but what's an even bigger head-scratcher is that it's never really explained why Young becomes such a vital part in her life. Ned Sparks tries to add some comic relief and fails and film buffs will also enjoy seeing Hattie McDaniel and Billy Gilbert in small roles. You can also quickly see Willie Best at a court sequence but he's not given a single line of dialogue. This attractive cast might make fans tune in when the film is shown on TCM but you're bound to be disappointed.
Mike and Carolyn get hitched and he immediately puts his foot down about her working outside the home. As the bills mount she takes a job on the side to stem the tide of debt collectors but he finds out and the couple split. Miserable without each other they shakily attempt to reconcile.
Save for the abrasive Gene Raymond as Mike, Bride fields a decent enough acting squad with Babs, Robert Young as a well heeled interloper and a broad comic support line of Ned Sparks, Helen Broderick, Hattie Mc Daniel and Billy Gilbert. But lightweight director Leigh Jason fails to get cast or tempo out of its lethargy and the Bride Walks Out deserves one itself.
Even at Depression Era values asking a married couple to live on $35.00 a week is a bit much. Barbara Stanwyck and Gene Raymond live on that because Raymond being an old fashioned guy and a bit of fathead insists that the woman be barefoot, in the kitchen and if possible pregnant. God help them if a kid does come along. And with all this somehow they still employ Hattie McDaniel as a maid.
Quite frankly if rich department store playboy owner Robert Young were after me, if I were Barbara I'd drop Raymond in a New York minute. She wants to work and today there would be no question but that she would.
Ned Sparks and Helen Broderick provide good support and a few laughs as the married couple who are best friends to the leads.
Old fashioned to say the least and not in a good way.
There's a lot of witty dialog between Raymond and Stanwyck's bickering next-door-neighbors, the cranky Ned Sparks and the sarcastic Helen Broderick. They provide most of the film's humor, and the funny thing about their long-married characters who pretend to hate each other is that you know that they'd never be able to live without each other. A very funny drunken scene occurs when Young arrives at Stanwyck's furniture-less apartment and proceeds to get himself, Stanwyck, Broderick and the still present Gilbert totally tanked with Gilbert sneezing the entire time and Broderick insisting "That's one gazuntight you owe me" every time he tries to sneeze but can't.
So while there's a lot to like in this sitcom like entry in the golden age of screwball comedy, there's really a lack of story and structure, even though everybody is on the top of their game. Toss in the always amusing Hattie McDaniel to throw in her two cents as a happy-go-lucky cook, and you've got a recipe for cake which unfortunately didn't rise because it was missing the flour.