Sunday, January 10, 2021

New Year, New Movie: Smart Woman (1931)

It's about time for a light and fluffy pre-code this evening. I will watch any movie with Edward Everett Horton. For my fellow Generation Xers, you will remember him as the narrator of Fractured Fairy Tales on the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show, and just the sound of his voice elicits fond memories, though he really is quite funny and always entertaining to see. He is here to support in this movie, with Mary Astor doing most of the heavy lifting.

"A wife should stick to her husband. If she doesn't, another woman will."

The Gist

When Nancy takes a trip overseas to attend to her sick mother, her absence gives her husband license to take up with another woman. Upon her return, she learns that he wants her to grant him a divorce so that he can marry his mistress. She adopts a 'modern' attitude and agrees to give him what he wants, but asks that she and her mother come to stay with them for the weekend to help avert scandal. In the meantime, she invites a wealthy admirer she met on her return trip to play the part of a love interest in an attempt to get her cheating husband back.

Memorable Moments

Nancy meets Sir Guy Harrington.

"Why do you drink that stuff?"
"Got to have my iron. Doctor's orders."

"Believe me, she's bad medicine. One of those blondes with a mother.
They hunt together. What the gal shoots down, mama drags home."

"Oh, I know, you expected me to cry my eyes out and make a scene. 
Well, I'm sorry to disappoint you. But you see, modern women 
don't act like that. Oh, our husband wants to go, does he? 
Very well then, let him. Maybe next time we'll have 
better luck and get a really good one."

Putting on an act for Don. Or are they?

Requisite lingerie shot.

Peggy shares fond remembrances with Don of the time on his
birthday when the cat licked the frosting on his cake and she
served it anyway without telling anyone.

Caught in a tryst.

Gratitude for Sir Guy.

Checking on the success of her plan.

My Thoughts

This is a variation of a common theme in pre-codes where women with cheating husbands adopt the mindset of "what's good for the goose is good for the gander," and do a little playing around themselves. In this particular film, Nancy only pretends to be having an affair in an attempt to regain her husband's interest in her. The problem in this movie is that Nancy's husband has no charisma and it's unclear why she wants to try and get him back, especially when the debonair Sir Guy is waiting in the wings for her. Still, it's always a delight to watch Mary Astor, and Edward Everett Horton gets some choice lines, which he delivers with his usual charm and wit. 

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