Monday, February 25, 2013

Mary and the Green-Eyed Monster

Poor Nancy Gibson (Mary Astor)! Just returned to New York from Europe, where she went to look after her ailing mother, she finds her beloved husband Donald (Robert Ames) is head-over-heels in love with a younger woman, and eager for a divorce.  Thus begins Smart Woman (1931), a pre-code film which focuses on Mary's clever plan to recover her husband's affection - make him believe that SHE returned for a divorce, to marry her "lover",  Sir Guy Harrington (John Halliday). 

This is a clever little movie, made all the more pleasurable by the presence of Edward Everett Horton as Nancy's brother-in-law, Bill Ross.  We are so used to Mr. Horton as a buffoon, it was great to see him being smart and even, at times, cagey.  Disgusted with his Donald's behavior, he and his equally smart wife, Sally (played by Ruth Weston) collude with Nancy in her quest to convince Donald that she strayed long before he even thought of it.  We were also intrigued by the performance of John Halliday.  His Sir Guy is genuinely in love with Nancy, but his is an unselfish love - he attempts to break up the affair between Donald and Peggy Preston (Noel Francis) in his own inimitable fashion.  But we won't spoil the end by revealing his plan.

We found the relationship between Peggy and her mother as rather reminiscent of a later film - The Parent Trap.  Think Vicki Robinson (Joanna Barnes) and Mama Edna (Linda Watkins).  Vipers awaiting their wealthy prey. Mary Astor is just delightful as she realizes Peggy's motives, and has to keep up the front that she is all sympathy for their "love".  Watch her as she tells Peggy exactly WHO owns the house!  Here's the scene where Peggy and Nancy meet:



Next week, we invite you to a mystery