Money (and its counterpart of greed) has been indefinitely linked with sin, and the movies have often told us tales of financial success bringing forth opportunities for infidelity. Thus is the case with No Other Woman and my upcoming review of Boom Town. The former is a roughly constructed tale of a factory worker and his wife and their rise to great fortunes through a friend’s invention. The latter addresses the ups and downs of an oilman and his wife as their level of success changes.
What both pictures have in common is that they introduce towards each film’s end an additional female character whose interest in the male lead is primarily greed-based. Irene Dunne as Anna reluctantly marries factory worker Jim Stanley (Charles Bickford) despite having ambitions of leaving the dreary town in which they live. The couple end up supporting a friend who has found a way to use waste from the factory to create a permanent dye. The business takes off with Jim as the brains of the operation and the couple rises to great prestige.
Jim’s powerful position, however, offers him the opportunity and excuses necessary to carry on an extramarital affair in New York City. The shallow woman (Gwili Andre) has Jim entranced with her sex appeal and works to pry her lover away from his wife and young son. Anna is unfortunately aware of the affair but refuses to grant her husband a divorce when he asks for one. The case therefore goes to court where Anna sits by and allows the opposing party to paint a false story about she having extramarital relations. Ultimately, Jim will send himself to jail and in the process destroy the value of his company’s stock. Only poverty can return the couple’s relationship to its origins.
Stories about young love and the dutiful wife who stands by while her husband philanders are pretty common plots. They most often end with the man coming to his senses and returning to his original love and often giving up the lifestyle that elicited the external attention. No Other Woman does not put the story across in the best way. The production quality is low and Bickford is totally unlikable from the start, which makes the audience unable to accept Anna’s undying love for him and unwilling to wish for the couple’s reunion. Dunne is sweet as ever as the unhappy wife and totally sympathetic while Andre makes herself perfectly despicable.