Review: ‘The Divorcee’

In its adaptation of Ex-Wife, the spicy 1929 novel by Ursula Parrott, Metro has taken liberties. Refinement has taken the upper hand here, with only the necessary touch of sauciness to satisfy readers of the novel, which was first published anonymously and later, after thousands of copies were sold, under the author's name.

In its adaptation of Ex-Wife, the spicy 1929 novel by Ursula Parrott, Metro has taken liberties. Refinement has taken the upper hand here, with only the necessary touch of sauciness to satisfy readers of the novel, which was first published anonymously and later, after thousands of copies were sold, under the author’s name.

Metro has even changed the names of the characters as they were in the Parrott story, given it a totally foreign opening, skipped much of the material that made Ex-Wife an interesting yarn, missed entirely the spirit with which the heroine accepts the futility of her marriage, suddenly broken off, and for a surprise ending takes the action to Paris and patches everything up.

Norma Shearer is excellent as the ad writer who in the novel finally despairs of ever getting her husband back, but in the picture does and with a very effective, formula-like clinch for the close. Opposite Shearer is Chester Morris, who is actually cast as a newspaper man. You only know that because he says so once. Audience figuring out things for the finish will probably be fooled to find that Conrad Nagel, the other man, doesn’t successfully step in for the final fade, but that’s the way it’s been done here, the novel notwithstanding.

Besides good performances by Shearer, Morris and Nagel, unusually fine work is contributed by Robert Montgomery, the husband’s friend, who helps himself to the wife as he would to an extended cocktail.

1929/30: Best Actress (Norma Shearer).

Nominations: Best Picture, Director, Writing (John Meehan)

The Divorcee

Production

M-G-M. Director Robert Z. Leonard; Screenplay Nick Grinde, Zelda Sears, John Meehan; Camera Norbert Brodine; Editor Hugh Wynn

Crew

(B&W) Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1930. Running time: 80 MIN.

With

Norma Shearer Chester Morris Conrad Nagel Robert Montgomery Florence Eldridge Helene Millard
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