Tuesday, December 20, 2011

When Ladies Meet (1933)



"He's a married man"
"I know, the best ones always are"

            Girls are very possessive creatures especially when it comes to the opposite sex. At the moment I unfortunately work with girls who still think they are in high school and act like teenagers and they forever go on about their boyfriend problems. I always get a kick out of them when they get charged up about their boyfriends talking to another girl and they say how if they ever see this girl their boyfriends are talking to they are going to kick the crap out of them. I am not the possessive and aggressive type and I have no patience for anyone but myself (and even sometimes that wears thin) at this juncture in my life. But sometimes I find myself thinking what if I were in the situation these girls were in and what would I say to the other girl. Well let me tell you I would be really mad but I would not want to beat the other woman up. The original 1933 version of When Ladies Meet takes this question and this scenario by having the wife and mistress meet unbeknownst to each other. They both talk to each other about what they would do and say if they ever met the other woman.
            Mary Howard (Myrna Loy) is a writer. Her new book is about a woman who is seeing another man and is totally taken by him but he is married. The woman in the book wants to talk to the wife but the man is adamantly against it. Her friend Jimmie Lee (Robert Montgomery) hates the book most likely because it is reflecting her real life and her life at the moment is something he cannot handle. Jimmie is in love with Mary and repeatedly asks her to marry him but she always shoots him down. Mary is passionately in love with her publisher Rogers Woodruf (Frank Morgan) they meet often and mostly late at night. Rogers is, unfortunately for Mary, married with two children.
            Late one night Jimmie drunkenly climbs up a tree to Mary’s balcony. She is furious at him because Rogers is over and she knows that Jimmie does not really approve of him. When he comes into the house he lets Rogers know that he met his wife Clare (Ann Harding) at the party he has just come from. A while later Jimmie plays a game of golf with Clare. He decides to play a trick on Mary: she and Rogers are spending the weekend at her friend Bridget’s house but if he were to receive a call that someone important he needs to meet is in town he must go back. Jimmie uses this knowledge and pretends that he is the important person leaving him the opportunity to take Clare to Bridget’s house to meet Mary. He is clever though he never lets Mary or Clare know who the other is he just tells Clare to pretend that she is his girlfriend to make Mary a bit jealous.
            Mary and Clare get along very nicely. At night they sit in Clare’s room talking about Mary’s book and the subject of a cheating husband. Rogers’ name is brought up, Clare said she would be furious if she ever met one of his mistresses (he has had them before she reveals and that she knows when the relationship is over because he treats her with so much love) and that they would never be able to have a nice conversation. Mary lets slip that she is seeing Rogers and speak of the devil the man walks in.
            I like this concept I find it interesting that Clare had the idea that if she were to meet one of her husband’s mistresses that she would be furious but when she found out that Mary was his new fling she was nice to her. Inside she must have been devastated but she never let it out. These two women who loved the same man were able to have a very nice conversation before and after.
            The cast was really good but I think I would have changed it around a bit. I feel Robert Montgomery should have been the publisher instead of Frank Morgan. Morgan was so much older than Myrna Loy and Ann Harding that he was a little unbelievable that both women could love a man like him so much. I could believe it if they were both madly in love with Montgomery but he was always the playboy trying to get the girl. I do not know who I would have put in to replace Montgomery maybe someone who was popular but with a little less star power.
            Loy and Harding had been in The Animal Kingdom together which I have seen and reviewed. In that film Loy was cast with Leslie Howard who like Harding was originally a stage actor. As I said in that review you can definitely see that Loy was a film actor and Harding was stage actress just by the way they carried themselves and spoke their lines. I liked their scenes together because of the mix of their acting styles. While Loy is more known for her comedies she more than proves that she was a very capable dramatic actress. I say have said this plenty of times when I have reviewed Loy in dramas that if any other actress had been in the role they would have gone too over the top with the drama but Loy was just right she never went too far.
            Robert Montgomery I felt should have been in it more… after all he is the top billed. It was as though his character was getting walked over. I think I was a little let down I was so looking forward to seeing him and Loy together because I like them both a lot and they barely had any really good scenes together.
            I am sure most people are familiar with the 1941 version starring Joan Crawford in Myrna Loy’s role, Greer Garson in Ann Harding’s role, and Robert Taylor in Frank Morgan’s role. I find it funny that Crawford is the part of the mistress since she and Loy were good friends. I would not mind watching the remake mostly because Garson and Taylor are in the film but this version focuses on the mistress more than the wife and I would much rather watch Garson more than Crawford. The idea of Taylor being the cheating husband is much more believable than Frank Moragan.
            When Ladies Meet is very sophisticated and I am going to say thought provoking. As I said at the beginning of this post I always hear girls talking about their boyfriends talking with other girls. They sound outrageously ignorant that all I can do is laugh. I am not a possessive jealous person which is most likely why I find that so funny. When Ladies Meet is very sophisticated played out by a very sophisticated and classy cast. I know this is a movie and it is made up but if I were ever face to face with my husband’s mistress I would like the situation to be handled like it was between Clare and Mary. At times the film drags but for the most part it is very enthralling and interesting.