Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Robert Florey|
|Produced by||Darryl F. Zanuck|
|Written by||David Boehm|
|Starring|| Bette Davis |
|Music by||Leo F. Forbstein|
|Edited by||Harold McLernon|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
Ex-Lady is a 1933 American pre-Code comedy/drama film directed by Robert Florey. The screenplay by David Boehm is a remake of the Barbara Stanwyck film Illicit (1931), both crediting a story (actually a play)by Edith Fitzgerald and Robert Riskin. The film focuses on a pair of lovers, commercial illustrator Helen Bauer (Bette Davis) and advertising writer Don Peterson (Gene Raymond), who have been living together quite happily (in separate apartments) for some time. One night, after hiding in Helen’s bedroom until their party guests have all left, Don announces that he is tired of sneaking around. He wants marriage—and possibly children—and Helen finally agrees, although she is afraid that it will wreck their relationship. Her predictions of trouble—increased by the stresses of opening their own advertising agency—come true, but in the end, with the serendipitous intervention of their perpetually inebriated friend, Van (Frank McHugh), they reconcile and resume the mixed blessings of wedded bliss.
Helen Bauer (Bette Davis) is a glamorous, successful, headstrong, and very liberated New York graphic artist with modern ideas about romance. She is involved with Don Peterson (Gene Raymond) but is not prepared to sacrifice her independence by entering into matrimony. The two agree to wed only to pacify Helen's conventional immigrant father Adolphe (Alphonse Ethier), whose Old World views spur him to condemn their affair. They form a business partnership, but financial problems at their advertising agency put a strain on the marriage and Don begins seeing Peggy Smith (Kay Strozzi), one of his married clients. Convinced it was marriage that disrupted their relationship, Helen suggests they live apart but remain lovers. When Don discovers Helen is dating his business rival, playboy Nick Malvyn (Monroe Owsley), he returns to Peggy, but in reality his heart belongs to his wife. Agreeing their love will help their marriage survive its problems, the two reconcile and settle into domestic bliss.
The plot is unusual for its time in that Helen is not denigrated for her beliefs about marriage and Don is not depicted as being a cad.In addition, although they are sleeping together and unmarried, neither is concerned about the possibility of children, and certain dialog could suggest that they are using birth control.
The Warner Bros. film was a remake of the Barbara Stanwyck vehicle Illicit, released two years earlier.
Following the film's release, producer Darryl F. Zanuck resigned from Warners to form his own production company, Twentieth Century Pictures, which eventually merged with Fox to become 20th Century Fox.
The prologue to the 1962 film What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? includes a scene from Ex-Lady as an example of former child star Jane Hudson's failure to achieve screen success as an adult due to her lack of talent.
The New York Times in a contemporary review from 1933, described the film as "an honestly written and truthfully enacted picture of the domestic problems which harass two persons in love with one another".
In contrast, a more recent review in TV Guide called it a "lame little melodrama notable chiefly for being the first film to have Bette Davis' name above the title".
In her 1962 autobiography, Davis expressed her disdain for the film calling it a “piece of junk”.She also stated that the film “was supposed to be provocative and provoked anyone of sensibility to nausea”.
For the film, Davis had been given the Hollywood glamor girl treatment, which she resented for she “wasn’t the type to be glamorized”.She was even more outraged over the marketing campaign for the film which “falsely pictured her as half-naked” on the films posters, declaring that her shame was only exceeded by her fury. She hated this film and this part of her career so much that she admitted her “conscious tastefully avoided” all memories of this film.
Despite Davis’s dislike of the film, she admittedly had more disgust for Parachute Jumper (1933)
In 2013, the Warner Archive Collection included this film in its DVD box set of Forbidden Hollywood Collection: Volume 7; with The Hatchet Man (1932), Skyscraper Souls (1932), and Employees' Entrance (1933).
According to Warner Bros the film earned $228,000 domestically and $55,000 foreign.
The following is an overview of 1933 in film, including significant events, a list of films released, and notable births and deaths.
Mr. Skeffington is a 1944 American drama film directed by Vincent Sherman, based on the novel of the same name by Elizabeth von Arnim.
George Brent was an Irish-American stage, film, and television actor. He is best remembered for the eleven films he made with Bette Davis, which included Jezebel and Dark Victory.
The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex is a 1939 American historical romantic drama film directed by Michael Curtiz and starring Bette Davis, Errol Flynn, and Olivia de Havilland. Based on the play Elizabeth the Queen by Maxwell Anderson—which had a successful run on Broadway with Lynn Fontanne and Alfred Lunt in the lead roles—the film fictionalizes the historical relationship between Queen Elizabeth I and Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex. The screenplay was written by Norman Reilly Raine and Aeneas MacKenzie.
42nd Street is a 1933 American pre-Code musical film directed by Lloyd Bacon, and a script by Rian James and James Seymour, adapted from the 1932 novel of the same name by Bradford Ropes. Starring an ensemble cast of Warner Baxter, Bebe Daniels, George Brent, Ruby Keeler, Dick Powell and Ginger Rogers, the film revolved around the rehearsals of a Broadway show at the height of the Great Depression, and its cast and crew. The film was choreographed by Busby Berkeley, with music by Harry Warren and lyrics by Al Dubin.
Beyond the Forest is a 1949 American film noir directed by King Vidor, and featuring Bette Davis, Joseph Cotten, David Brian, and Ruth Roman. The screenplay is written by Lenore J. Coffee based on a novel by Stuart Engstrand.
A Stolen Life is a 1946 American drama film starring Bette Davis, who also produced it. The film, based on the 1935 novel "A Stolen Life" by Karel Josef Benes, and was directed by Curtis Bernhardt. Among the supporting cast are Glenn Ford, Dane Clark, Peggy Knudsen, Charlie Ruggles, and Bruce Bennett. The movie is a remake of a 1939 British film Stolen Life starring Elisabeth Bergner and Michael Redgrave.
Satan Met a Lady is a 1936 American detective film directed by William Dieterle and starring Bette Davis and Warren William.
Margaret Lindsay was an American film actress. Her time as a Warner Bros. contract player during the 1930s was particularly productive. She was noted for her supporting work in successful films of the 1930s and 1940s such as Jezebel (1938) and Scarlet Street (1945) and her leading roles in lower-budgeted B movie films such as the Ellery Queen series at Columbia in the early 1940s. Critics regard her portrayal of Nathaniel Hawthorne's Hepzibah Pyncheon in the 1940 film adaptation of The House of the Seven Gables as Lindsay's standout career role.
Claudia Dell was an American showgirl and actress of the stage and Hollywood motion pictures.
Old Acquaintance is a 1943 American drama film released by Warner Bros. It was directed by Vincent Sherman and produced by Henry Blanke with Jack L. Warner as executive producer. The film was adapted from a screenplay by John Van Druten, Lenore Coffee and Edmund Goulding based on Van Druten's 1940 play of the same title.
Parachute Jumper is a 1933 American pre-Code black-and-white drama film that was directed by Alfred E. Green. Based on a story by Rian James titled "Some Call It Love", the screen production stars Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Bette Davis and Frank McHugh.
The Golden Arrow (1936) is an American comedy film directed by Alfred E. Green and starring Bette Davis and George Brent. The screenplay by Charles Kenyon is based on a story of the same title by Michael Arlen published in the September 14, 1935 issue of Liberty.
Winter Meeting is a 1948 American drama film directed by Bretaigne Windust and starring Bette Davis and Jim Davis. The screenplay, based on the novel of the same name by Grace Zaring Stone, was written by Catherine Turney.
Fashions of 1934 is a 1934 American pre-Code musical comedy film directed by William Dieterle with musical numbers created and directed by Busby Berkeley. The screenplay by F. Hugh Herbert and Carl Erickson was based on the story The Fashion Plate by Harry Collins and Warren Duff. The film stars William Powell, Bette Davis, Hugh Herbert and Frank McHugh, and has songs by Sammy Fain (music) and Irving Kahal (lyrics). Sometime after the initial release, the title Fashions of 1934 was changed to Fashions, replacing the original title with an insert card stating "William Powell in 'Fashions'".
So Big is a 1932 pre-Code American drama film directed by William A. Wellman and starring Barbara Stanwyck. The screenplay by J. Grubb Alexander and Robert Lord is based on the 1924 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name, by Edna Ferber.
The Keyhole is a 1933 American pre-Code comedy-drama film directed by Michael Curtiz, starring Kay Francis, George Brent, Glenda Farrell and Allen Jenkins. It was released by Warner Bros. on March 25, 1933. A Woman with two husbands tries to divorce one of them by heading down to Havana where things get more complicated.
Theresa Harris was an American television and film actress, singer and dancer.
The House on 56th Street is a 1933 American pre-Code drama film, starring Kay Francis as a woman sent to prison for twenty years for a murder she did not commit. When she is released, her husband is dead, and her daughter has been told Peggy is also dead.
Illicit is a 1931 American pre-Code drama film directed by Archie Mayo and starring Barbara Stanwyck, James Rennie, Ricardo Cortez, and Natalie Moorhead. Based on a play by Edith Fitzgerald and Robert Riskin, the film is about a young couple living together out of wedlock because the woman does not believe in marriage. When they finally get married, both become unfaithful to each other. Illicit was produced and distributed by Warner Bros.
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