Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB .
USA, 1929. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Screenplay by Frances Marion, dialogue adaptation by James Forbes, from the novel by Sarita Fuller. Cinematography by William H. Daniels. Music by William Axt. Production Design by Cedric Gibbons. Costume Design by Adrian. Film Editing by Harry Reynolds. Academy Awards 1929/1930.
Norma Shearer received two Oscar nominations in the same year for playing the ideal Modern Woman, winning for The Divorcee while also nominated for this brisk and smart, if at times melodramatic, romance. Her parents divorce at the beginning after her father takes up with another woman, and it inspires her to take her mother to a rural resort for some rest and relaxation. Her mom insists on staying in her room and crying all day, so Shearer goes out to meet the young folks and falls in love with cute young Robert Montgomery. He’s taken with her spirited ways and they fall quickly in love, but when they reveal each others’ last names and he turns out to be the son of her new stepmother, it really complicates their future plans. In just over an hour of screen time, the efficient script by Marion Davies manages to cover a great deal of character and plot exposition, even fitting in an exciting near death experience in a storm at the end before the very tidy and satisfying ending. Shearer’s exuberance is still appealing after so many years and her chemistry with Montgomery is sexy, making it still feel pretty contemporary despite how dated the film’s morality is.