Once a Lady

Last updated

Once a Lady
Once a Lady.jpg
Directed by Guthrie McClintic
Written by Rudolf Bernauer (play Das Zweite Leben)
Rudolf Osterreicher (play Das Zweite Leben)
Zoë Akins (writer)
Samuel Hoffenstein (writer)
Produced by Adolph Zukor
Starring Ruth Chatterton
Ivor Novello
Jill Esmond
Cinematography Charles Lang
Paramount Pictures
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date
  • November 7, 1931 (1931-11-07)
Running time
80 minutes
CountryUnited States

Once a Lady is a 1931 American Pre-Code drama film directed by Guthrie McClintic and starring Ruth Chatterton, Ivor Novello and Jill Esmond. The film, produced and distributed by Paramount Pictures, is a remake of the Pola Negri silent film Three Sinners (1928). [1] [2] The film was the final attempt by British matinée idol Novello to establish himself in Hollywood. [3]



A young Russian woman (Chatterton) marries a wealthy Englishman (Novello), and has a daughter with him. After she has an affair with one of his friends, she is forced to leave Britain and moves to Paris. Many years later, her daughter approaches her, needing her help. [4]


Related Research Articles

Ivor Novello Welsh composer and actor (1893–1951)

Ivor Novello was a Welsh actor, dramatist, singer and composer who became one of the most popular British entertainers of the first half of the 20th century.

<i>Gosford Park</i> 2001 period film directed by Robert Altman

Gosford Park is a 2001 satirical black comedy mystery film directed by Robert Altman and written by Julian Fellowes. It was influenced by Jean Renoir's French classic, La Règle du jeu.

Ruth Chatterton American actress

Ruth Chatterton was an American stage, film, and television actress, aviatrix and novelist. She was at her most popular in the early to mid-1930s, and in the same era gained prominence as an aviator, one of the few female pilots in the United States at the time. In the late 1930s, Chatterton retired from film acting but continued her career on the stage. She had several TV roles beginning in the late 1940s and became a successful novelist in the 1950s. She died of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1961.

<i>Min and Bill</i> 1930 film

Min and Bill is a 1930 American Pre-Code comedy-drama film, directed by George W. Hill and starring Marie Dressler and Wallace Beery. Adapted by Frances Marion and Marion Jackson from Lorna Moon's 1929 novel, Dark Star, the film tells the story of dockside innkeeper Min's tribulations as she tries to protect the innocence of her adopted daughter, Nancy, while loving and fighting with boozy fisherman Bill, who resides at the inn. The picture was a runaway hit. In 1931, the studio released a Spanish-language version of Min and Bill, La fruta amarga, directed by Arthur Gregor and starring Virginia Fábregas and Juan de Landa.

Ralph Forbes English actor

Ralph Forbes was an English film and stage actor active in Britain and the United States.

Jill Esmond British actress (1908–1990)

Jill Esmond was an English stage and screen actress. She was the first wife of Laurence Olivier.

Zoe Akins American playwright, poet, and author

Zoe Byrd Akins was an American playwright, poet, and author. She won the 1935 Pulitzer Prize for drama for The Old Maid.

Marian Marsh Trinidad-American actress (1913–2006)

Marian Marsh was a Trinidad-born American film actress and later an environmentalist.

Heather Thatcher

Heather Thatcher was an English actress in theatre and films.

<i>Mandalay</i> (film) 1934 film by Michael Curtiz

Mandalay is a 1934 American pre Code drama film directed by Michael Curtiz and written by Austin Parker and Charles Kenyon based on a story by Paul Hervey Fox. The film stars Kay Francis, Ricardo Cortez, Warner Oland and Lyle Talbot, and features Ruth Donnelly and Reginald Owen.

<i>Three Sinners</i> 1928 film

Three Sinners (1928) is a silent film directed by Rowland V. Lee, starring Pola Negri, and co-starring Warner Baxter, Olga Baclanova, and Paul Lukas.

<i>The Rat</i> (1937 film) 1937 film directed by Jack Raymond

The Rat is a 1937 British drama film directed by Jack Raymond and starring Anton Walbrook, Ruth Chatterton, and René Ray. It is based on the play The Rat by Ivor Novello which had previously been made into a 1925 film The Rat starring Novello. It was made at Denham Studios by Herbert Wilcox Productions.

<i>Escape Me Never</i> (1935 film) 1935 British film

Escape Me Never is a 1935 British drama film directed by Paul Czinner, produced by Herbert Wilcox, and starring Elisabeth Bergner, Hugh Sinclair and Griffith Jones. The score is by William Walton with orchestration by Hyam Greenbaum. Bergner was nominated for the Oscar for Best Actress for her performance, but lost to Bette Davis. British readers of Film Weekly magazine voted the 1935 Best Performance in a British Movie to her. The film is an adaptation of the play Escape Me Never by Margaret Kennedy, which was based upon her 1930 novel The Fool of the Family. That book was a sequel to The Constant Nymph, which was also about the Sanger family of musical geniuses, but there is a disjunct among the books and the films: the Sanger brothers are never mentioned in the 1943 movie version of The Constant Nymph. Another film adaptation of Escape Me Never was made in 1947 by Warner Bros.

<i>States Attorney</i> (film) 1932 film

State's Attorney is a 1932 American pre-Code drama film made at RKO and starring John Barrymore. George Archainbaud directed and the film could more or less be considered a warm up for Barrymore when he later went to Universal to film the similar Counsellor at Law. Remade in 1937 and 1951 both titled Criminal Lawyer. The story was supposedly based on the life of criminal lawyer William J. Fallon, who defended 126 homicide cases without any convictions.

<i>Riptide</i> (1934 film) 1934 American romance film directed by Edmund Goulding

Riptide is a 1934 American pre-Code romantic drama film starring Norma Shearer, Robert Montgomery and Herbert Marshall, written and directed by Edmund Goulding, and released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

<i>Chances</i> (film) 1931 film

Chances is a 1931 American Pre-Code war drama film directed by Allan Dwan, starring Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., and is based on the 1930 novel by A. Hamilton Gibbs.

The Laughing Lady is a 1929 sound film melodrama directed by Victor Schertzinger, starring Ruth Chatterton and produced and released by Paramount Famous Lasky Corporation. It is based on a 1922 British play, The Laughing Lady, by Alfred Sutro. The play was brought to New York in 1923 and put on Broadway starring Ethel Barrymore.

<i>Other Mens Wives</i> 1919 film by Victor Schertzinger

Other Men's Wives is a lost 1919 American silent drama film directed by Victor Schertzinger and written by C. Gardner Sullivan. The film stars Dorothy Dalton, Forrest Stanley, Holmes Herbert, Dell Boone, Elsa Lorimer, and Hal Clements. The film was released on June 15, 1919, by Paramount Pictures.

<i>The Magnificent Lie</i> 1931 film

The Magnificent Lie is a 1931 American pre-Code drama film directed by Berthold Viertel and written by Vincent Lawrence, Leonard Merrick and Samson Raphaelson. The film stars Ruth Chatterton, Ralph Bellamy, Stuart Erwin, Françoise Rosay, Sam Hardy, Charles Boyer and Tyler Brooke. The film was released on July 25, 1931, by Paramount Pictures. It was based on Merrick's novel Laurels and the Lady.

Ethel Barrymore on stage, screen and radio

Ethel Barrymore was an American actress of stage, screen and radio. She came from a family of actors; she was the middle child of Maurice Barrymore and Georgie Drew Barrymore, and had two brothers, Lionel and John. Reluctant to pursue her parents' career, the loss of financial support following the death of Louisa Lane Drew, caused Barrymore to give up her dream of becoming a concert pianist and instead earn a living on the stage. Barrymore's first Broadway role, alongside her uncle John Drew, Jr., was in The Imprudent Young Couple (1895). She soon found success, particularly after an invitation from William Gillette to appear on stage in his 1897 London production of Secret Service. Barrymore was soon popular with English society, and she had a number of romantic suitors, including Laurence Irving, the dramatist. His father, Henry Irving, cast her in The Bells (1897) and Peter the Great (1898).


  1. The AFI Catalog of Feature Films:Once a Lady, afi.com; accessed July 28, 2015.
  2. The American Film Institute Catalog Feature Films: 1931-40 by The American Film Institute, c. 1993
  3. Williams, Michael. Ivor Novello: Screen Idol. British Film Institute, 2003, p. 7
  4. Once A Lady, imdb.com; accessed July 28, 2015.