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No More Ladies

Gasser

No More Ladies (1935)

      No More Ladies is the first in what has become an inadvertent sequence of movies viewed over the past day that depict various aspects of the strains on married life. For our first, the trauma is infidelity. Look for the next two over the weekend: The Palm Beach Story and Love Crazy.

     Robert Montgomery in his typical romantic roles as an uppercrust suitor always managed to woo me whether he was playing a gent or a cad, but in No More Ladies my current favorite male actor managed to turn me away. Montgomery portrays a playboy — not atypical for him — who defies his opinions on marriage to wed Joan Crawford‘s Marcia. Montgomery’s Sherry cannot, however, avoid temptation in the form of a banjo player played by Gail Patrick, whom I have only seen as the bitch in My Man Godfrey (she’s not making a good name for herself with me).

     Sherry initially lies about his whereabouts but eventually admits his crime with a mere “yes” meant to intimate he slept with the woman. Knowing her husband will likely be a repeat offender, Marcia arranges a strange party that invites the banjo player, a man whose wife Sherry stole away only to drop her (Franchot Tone), and that wife and her new husband. The set up makes for an incredibly awkward situation for all attendees except Marcia who plays like she could not care less.

     Montgomery plays Sherry, the asshole, to a T. The man seems to have no remorse over is unfaithful deeds, which served to send me, like Marcia toward the arms of Tone’s character. Marcia’s behavior during the course of this party and beyond serves to truly teach Sherry a lesson leaving us with a happy ending but no real guarantee that the groom will not stray again.

     No More Ladies is certainly a drama with only occasional comic relief. It is a tragic analysis of the sorts of marriages that were oft portrayed on the screen at this time. Divorce was a fashionable answer to too hastily officiated marriages, but our characters are reluctant to go mainstream in their approach. Even before she devises her revenge scheme, Marcia says she has no intention of divorcing Sherry against her grandmother’s advice. It also perhaps shines a light on the double standard that seemed to exist with extramarital affairs. A mistress for the man is no strange occurence and one with which a wife must live, but allow the woman to take on a superfluous suitor and the husband is shocked and awakened to the harm of fooling about.

     I should note that I inadvertently marked No More Ladies as one I had already seen on the Robert Montgomery Checklist. Lucky for me when it aired this week on TCM, I happened to turn on the TV just in time to catch it from the start.

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