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That Certain Woman (1937)

Approved | | Drama, Romance | 18 September 1937 (USA)
Mary Donnell, a young legal secretary with a past, elopes with a client's son, but his father has the marriage annulled without knowing she's pregnant.

Director:

Edmund Goulding

Writer:

Edmund Goulding
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Bette Davis ... Mary Donnell
Henry Fonda ... Jack Merrick
Anita Louise ... Flip
Ian Hunter ... Lloyd Rogers
Donald Crisp ... Merrick, Sr.
Hugh O'Connell ... Virgil Whitaker
Katharine Alexander ... Mrs. Rogers (as Katherine Alexander)
Mary Philips ... Amy (as Mary Phillips)
Minor Watson ... Tilden
Sidney Toler ... Detective Neely
Charles Trowbridge ... Dr. James
Norman Willis ... Fred
Herbert Rawlinson ... Dr. Hartman
Tim Henning Tim Henning ... Kenyon
Dwane Day Dwane Day ... Jackie
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Storyline

Mary Donnell was married at sixteen to a gangster and soon widowed. She works for unhappily married lawyer Lloyd Rogers. A client's son Jack elopes with her, but his father tracks them down and has the marriage annulled. Mary has a son. Unaware of this, the father remarries; his new wife is crippled in an auto accident. The lawyer, now dying, tells Mary he has left her money for her and her son, Roger's widow suspects her husband may have been the father, while Mary is convinced instead that it was her annulled ex-husband, Jack. Jack's ruthless father , upon learning he may be grandparent of the child, threatens legal action to gain custody, but his son wants no part in separating little Jackie from his mother. Further, he reasserts his love for Mary and promises he will ask his now handicapped wife, Flip, for a divorce so that Jackie will have a real family. He instructs Mary to pack her belongings and get Jackie ready to leave so that the three can start a new life ... Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Love Broke Her Heart !

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

18 September 1937 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Aquella mujer See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

A prolific smoker, Bette Davis doesn't smoke once during the film. She takes a an offered cigarette at one time but only holds it. Bette also makes a couple of negative comments about cigarette smoke. Sorry, don't know who posted this, but the above is inaccurate; she has at least one in the bar waiting for Henry Fonda. See more »

Quotes

Lloyd Rogers: You know, this existence we lead is a dismal affair without a personal and sympathetic interest, isn't it?
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Crazy Credits

The opening credits roll up. See more »


Soundtracks

'Cause My Baby Says It's So
(1937) (uncredited)
Music by Harry Warren
Played during the scene at the bar
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User Reviews

 
Very CONTRIVED melodrama
2 December 2016 | by kijiiSee all my reviews

Here, Davis plays a secretary, Mary Donnell, with a past: she was once married to a mobster when she was very young. He is now dead but the press will not let her forget her past and move forward. Jack Merrick , Jr. (Henry Fonda) is in love with Mary. He marries her—promising to stand on his own feet rather than living off of his wealthy father, (Donald Crisp). But Jack's father first forbids the marriage then, after they get married, he has it annulled, and sweeps Jack off to Europe.

However, Mary has Jack's baby and names him Jackie. She is emotionally supported by her maid, Amy (Mary Philips)-who here plays a role something like Thelma Ritter would play in later movies. Mary is also supported by her understanding boss, Lloyd Rogers (Ian Hunter), who has an unhappy marriage and is not-so-secretly in love with Mary. But, his love is unrequited.

As the years pass and little Jackie grows, Mary remains in love with Jack: she can't get him out of her mind. Jack marries in Europe and he and his wife, 'Flip' (Anita Louise), are in a bad car accident that leaves her in a wheelchair for life. When Jack and Amy return to America, they both re-enter Mary's life: Jack is introduced to, and falls in love with, his 4-year-old son. 'Flip' makes a point of visiting Mary to ask her to marry Jack so that he can have a 'full life' with Mary and little Jackie.

This is one of those Bette Davis melodramas in which she is asked to make personal sacrifice(s), but the movie has too MANY of these moments. In fact until the end, we are left wondering who she will have to sacrifice: Jack?—Jackie?—both?-neither? The only 'villains' of this movie are Jack's father, who continually foils the love between Mary and Jack, and the tabloid newspaper reporters who won't leave Mary alone.

Surprisingly, the other women, of the movie (Mrs. Rogers, Flip, and even Amy)--who should resent Mary--are always way TOO understanding towards her. Not only does the movie suffer from an excess of these moments but the ending is WAY contrived too.

It's too bad, because the movie seemed to show some promise at the beginning. All this aside, Bette Davis' acting is still the great stuff that we have learned to expect from her.


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