Wednesday, June 19, 2013

No More Ladies

What if MGM took another look at The Divorcée five years later, and saw that, with the imposition of the Production Code, there's no way they could make such a movie in the same way? And what if, having seen that, they tried to make an urbane comedy instead? The result might be something like No More Ladies, which is airing at midnight tonight on TCM.

Joan Crawford stars as Marcia, a socialite-type living with Grandma Fanny (Edna May Oliver). She's in love with Sherry (Robert Montgomery), even though he's a notorious playboy. Grandma warns Marcia about Sherry, as does marcia's cousin Edgar (Charlie Ruggles). But to no avail. Even though Sherry continues to stand up Marcia, she still keeps going back to him. After a while, Sherry proposes marriage to Marcia, and she accepts, even though they both admit that the chances of their having a successful marriage are rather low!

Sure enough, Sherry continues to be a playboy, on their honeymoon no less. And it's not as if he's a very convincing liar. On one of his trysts, he's seeing Edgar's date Theresa (Gail Patrick). Sherry lies to Marcia about it, claiming he's looking after Edgar, who's fallen ill. Marcia, and we, know that this is an utter lie, for an obvious reason: she's talking to Edgar in her room!

So, what's a woman who's being treated like this to do? Why not try getting revenge by treating her husband the same way he's been treating her? It's no more unreasonable than any other idea. And so Marcia finds Jim (Franchot Tone), whose wife Sherry romanced in the days before Sherry married Marcia. Suddenly, though, when the wife does it, it's not as acceptable when the husband does it.

No More Ladies is, to be honest, not much more than a little piffle. It's the kind of movie that I saw several years ago, but didn't register much more than all of the other mid-30s stuff I've seen. That's both bad, and good. Bad, of course, because it means the movie didn't do all that much special to be worth remembering. But good as well because it didn't do anything to make me remember it as a movie I wouldn't want to watch. In fact, one thing that makes the movie worth noting is the presence of the character Caroline. She's played by an 18-year-old actress credited as Joan Burfield. Burfield would soon take her stepfather's surname: Fontaine. Joan, despite having a surname of her own, wanted to distinguish herself from sister Olivia de Havilland. The rest, as they say, is history.

No More Ladies has received a Warner Archives release.

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