I saw this on TCM one day & was so delighted I actually recorded it. It is a rare gem and I found the screenplay and acting both believable and enjoyable. As many reviewers have noted, it is Pre-Code, meaning that women are allowed cleavage and men and women were portrayed in a natural way- that is sleeping in the same bed. (I actually remember asking my mom one time why Ricky Ricardo & Lucy slept in separate beds if they were married? What did they do, squeeze into that tiny bed the night Ricky, Jr. was conceived?! Preposterous! As most of the post-code was.)
But the 2 main strong points of the movie are Bette (of course) and the dialog. Bette plays Helen Bauer, a successful commercial artist and Gene Raymond plays Don Peterson, a successful advertising manager. There's a part early on in the movie when Helen & Don are discussing their relationship and it goes like this:
Don: "I'm just about fed up with sneaking in... let's get married so I'll have the right to be with you." Helen: "What do you mean 'right'? I don't like the word right." Don: "Let's not quibble about words." Helen: "No, I'm not quibbling, right means something. No one has any rights about me, except me."
And it's the WAY she says it, that means so much. She is able to say it and really mean it- without offending him.
Her character believes that women have the same rights as men. This is something I've always believed in very strongly myself, so I admit this is part of the reason the movie appeals to me so much. She also believes that she doesn't *have* to get married. And there's one part of the movie where she actually says the "dread" line, "I don't want babies." I look for the smelling salts as I write this! All kidding aside- good luck finding a female character this independent nowadays. I have to be honest- if more people thought like her, there would be less divorce. Her point is well taken- you should only really enter into marriage if you really want to. People marry for all kinds of reasons that have nothing to do with it. Helen's character even holds to her beliefs in the face of a very disapproving father. Even in the confrontation scene, she maintains her dignity and her beliefs without criticizing her parents' beliefs. There's another bit of dialog that shows how she thinks:
Gene: "You're a successful woman; I ought not to like it." Bette: "You're a pretty successful man; I ought not to like it." Gene & Bette in unison: "I'm a man!"
--- and Bette's body language says it all- she conveys the strength of will without robbing the man of his- something she has always been able to do so well and enigmatically. This also shows she's realistic- she's knows the times she lives in. And people that think that way will always be modern and contemporary. It definitely gives viewers a reason to watch something this amazing- especially considering it was made in 1933!
The rest of the cast if good and her partner in the movie played by Gene Raymond does a very nice job. They have a good chemistry on screen. As this is a pre-code movie and early Bette, I suppose those 2 reasons alone would make it worth watching- but the script and acting are also really good.
- update: I was looking at this movie today on IMDb and saw that 5 out of 10 people found my review helpful....what? did I hit a nerve with baby comment? or was it the one about only entering into marriage for love? I dunno but I thought I reviewed the movie and gave info that would help someone decide if it's the kind of movie they want to watch. Isn't that what the reviews are here for? to help?
Then I noticed ALL the reviews are like that (12 out of 24, 5 out of 10) so I guess somebody out there just doesn't like this movie. Maybe a post-code mentality?? ;)