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The Toy Wife (1938)

Passed | | Drama, History, Romance | 10 June 1938 (USA)
The beautiful and frivolous wife of a plantation owner in antebellum Louisiana proves unsatisfactory at running the household, leading her serious-minded husband to enlist the help of her unmarried sister.


Richard Thorpe


Zoe Akins (screen play)


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Complete credited cast:
Luise Rainer ... Gilberte 'Frou Frou' Brigard
Melvyn Douglas ... George Sartoris
Robert Young ... Andre Vallaire
Barbara O'Neil ... Louise Brigard
H.B. Warner ... Victor Brigard
Alma Kruger ... Madame Vallaire
Libby Taylor Libby Taylor ... Suzanne
Theresa Harris ... 'Pick'
Walter Kingsford ... Judge Rondell
Clinton Rosemond Clinton Rosemond ... Pompey
Clarence Muse ... Brutus
Leonard Penn ... Gaston Vincent
Alan Perl Alan Perl ... Georgie


'The toy wife' or how to spoil your own life and the lives of others by being fickle and frivolous. This is the story of Gilberte, a beautiful sixteen-year-old girl who charms, attracts and seduces all the men she meets. Back in Louisiana after a stay in France, she will steal her fiancé from her loving and beloved sister Louise. Once married with George, she will prove a poor mother for little Georgie, a poor manager of the plantation and an unfaithful wife. She indeed starts an affair with André, the dashing young man she actually loves. Tragedy will ensue. Written by Guy Bellinger

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Gay . . Rich In Romance See more »


Drama | History | Romance


Passed | See all certifications »






Release Date:

10 June 1938 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Mlle. Froufrou See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


This film was first telecast in Philadelphia Sunday 19 January 1958 on WFIL (Channel 6), followed by Los Angeles Tuesday 4 February 1958 on KTTV (Channel 11), and by San Francisco 20 June 1958 on KGO (Channel 7). New York City televiewers finally got a look at it Saturday 25 May 1963 on WCBS (Channel 2). See more »


Louise Brigard: He called you a toy wife!
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening title card: Gone is the flag of France from Lousiana, but until the civil war, the life of its French residents in New Orleans and on the great plantations was life under the old regime in France... See more »


Referenced in Too Hot to Handle (1938) See more »

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User Reviews

lovely if depressing
10 February 2015 | by blanche-2See all my reviews

Luise Rainer gives a beautiful performance as "The Toy Wife," a 1938 film. After she won two consecutive Oscars, roles for this beautiful, petite actress were difficult for MGM to find.

Here she plays Gilberte, a young woman known as Frou Frou, who comes back to Louisiana after living in France and captivates New Orleans. Her sister, Louise (Barbara O'Neill) is in love with George (Melvyn Douglas) but he falls for Frou Frou and marries her. They have a son, Georgie. Though George loves her, he has to admit that she is not much of a wife and mother. She's childlike herself, a playmate to her son, impractical, and an airhead.

George brings Louise to live with them and take care of the household and Georgie. Meanwhile, Frou Frou is rehearsing a play with a man who is in love with her, Andre (Robert Young). Over time, she realizes that Louise has taken over Georgie, and her husband, occupied with work, is less interested in her. When Louise receives a marriage proposal and turns it down, Frou Frou blows her top and lets her sister know what she really thinks of her. "You don't want your own husband and children, you want mine!" she screams. That night, she runs away with Andre, embittering George and putting Andre in danger.

This is a very good movie with a wonderful performance by Rainer, who is surrounded by an excellent cast. The costumes are gorgeous.

The character of Frou Frou is so sweet and loving, it's painful to see what a mess she makes of her life and the lives around her.

After Irving Thalberg's death, Rainer left Hollywood, dissatisfied with what Louis B. Mayer had to offer her. She married Clifford Odets and, after that ended, left the country. She married again, had a child, and continued to work on and off over the years, as late as 1997's The Gambler.

Luise Rainer was a great treasure unappreciated by MGM. She brought beauty and excellence in performance to everything she did. But MGM figured she had two Oscars so they could give her anything, and they did. She was miserable. But she liked this film very much, as well as her costar, Melvyn Douglas.

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