Jolly Cinema > 09:30


John M. Stahl


Tuesday 28/06/2016


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

John Stahl’s 1932 film was the first of three adaptations of Fannie Hurst’s bestselling novel produced by Universal, and remains by far the most graceful and moving. As Jacques Lourcelles noted in his Dictionnaire du cinéma, “Just as the characters are trapped in a single situation they will never escape during their lifetime, so is the spectator slowly overtaken by a melancholy that becomes sadness, a sadness that becomes hopelessness, emerging from the melodic uniformity of the style”. Irene Dunne, still in the ingénue phase of her career, stars as a young woman in the Midwestern city of Cincinnati in 1890, who declines the proposal of a promising young businessman (a Henry Ford figure played by Universal regular George Meeker) because of her hopeless love for a married financier (John Boles). Because divorce is unthinkable in 19th century America, she agrees to become his mistress, leading to a lifetime of ‘back street’ meetings and unfulfilled yearnings. For Stahl, this was the middle panel in a trilogy (between Seed and Only Yesterday) about the moral hypocrisy of American divorce laws, a subject that did not sit well with the censors. When Universal attempted to reissue the film in 1938, after the establishment of the Production Code, censor-in-chief Joseph Breen refused approval, noting the film “has become a symbol of the wrong kind of picture”.

Dave Kehr

Cast and Credits

Sog.: dal romanzo omonimo di Fannie Hurst. Scen.: Gladys Lehman. F.: Karl Freund. M.: Milton Carruth, Maurice Pivar. Scgf.: Charles D. Hall. Int.: Irene Dunne (Ray Schmidt), John Boles (Walter Saxel), George Meeker (Kurt Shendler), ZaSu Pitts (Mrs. Dole), June Clyde (Freda Schmidt). Prod.: Carl Leammle Jr. per Universal Pictures Corp. 35mm. D.: 92′. Bn.