“I like a woman with some spunk. But don’t make a habit of it.”
When most film fans think of the greatest screen couples they think of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, William Powell and Myrna Loy, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and so on. The last screen pairing anyone would think of or would probably ever know is Joel McCrea and Constance Bennett. McCrea and Bennett made four films together starting with Born to Love in 1931 and ending with Bed of Roses in 1933. McCrea and Bennett do not disappoint in their last film together.
Lorry Evans (Bennett) and her friend Minnie are ex-hookers who have been released from jail. For a while it seems that both of them will go back to their old ways. They board a riverboat that will take them to New Orleans. They take advantage of some rich men and take their money for their tickets but one of the men is onto Lorry and has her brought to the attention of the captain. Instead of being thrown back in jail Lorry jumps overboard into the river. The night is so foggy that no one can see where she is.
Lorry swims to a barge that is captained by a man named Dan Walder (McCrea). As he pulls Lorry up he makes her lose her money she stole. She gets mad and kicks Dan overboard. He gets back on the barge, picks Lorry up and tosses her back into the water! As they sail along in the barge Dan and Lorry come to like each other. On the last day of their trip Dan takes out the bag that has the pay for his crew. Lorry takes a great interest in the money. When Dan wakes up the next morning he finds that Lorry is gone and the money for the pay is gone. He is mad but not too mad saying that she must have needed the money pretty badly if she had to steel it.
Not too long later Lorry looks up a wealthy man named Stephan Paige. He is a publisher and she goes into his office with a big story looking for a job. She gets him to give her a drink, she asks if he will drink with her and he says no but by the end of the night Lorry has Stephan pretty smashed. The next morning he wakes up in his robe and no memory and Lorry walking out of his room. Lorry fakes a fit and makes it look like she is unstable saying she is going to kill herself if he is not nice to her. Stephan carries on an affair with Lorry and gets her an apartment.
Lorry eventually finds Dan again. She gives him the money she stole. They still have feelings for each other and Lorry realizes that she really loves Dan. She tells Dan that she is a governess for a wealthy family so he will not know what she is really doing. Stephan has Lorry followed he knows she went to the barge and demands that she not go there anymore. After their argument Lorry runs back to Dan and he proposes to her and tells her to runaway with him on the barge. Back at her apartment she calls Minnie to tell her the news but Stephan is standing over her. He is willing to let her go but he is going to tell Dan about her past if she does not. Instead of telling Dan about her shameful past she does not go to the barge leaving Dan heartbroken.
Lorry moves out of the apartment Stephan was paying for, moved into a small attic room and works as a shop girl. Stephan wants Lorry back and arranges with Minnie to have them meet by “accident.” The plan backfires Lorry does not want to go back to him.
Dan eventually finds Lorry in her apartment. She tries to tell him that she is no good but he will not listen all he knows is that he loves her regardless of what she was and has done.
Constance Bennett and Joel McCrea were excellent together. Bennett never fails to be amazing. She has such a fabulous attitude especially when she swims up to the barge. I love the tough 1930s female characters and Bennett is one of the best. McCrea plays the nice poor boy with the heart of gold who Bennett falls for. He was so incredibly handsome and so sweet that when Lorry does not go with him you are really made at her! Hell, if I ever met a man who was handsome like McCrea I would surely run away with him! What I like about Joel McCrea and Constance Bennett’s paring is that they were really good looking together. Let me tell you they have one of the best screen kisses I have ever seen! Bennett oozed this sex appeal that, while McCrea was incredibly good looking anyway, made him look even more good looking and incredibly handsome. I really wish their screen pairings would be more recognized they were so good together.
Bed of Roses is not a stand out film but with Constance Bennett as the star and Joel McCrea as her leading man it is worth sitting through. Bed of Roses is unfortunately not available on DVD nor is it on youtube. Try to catch the film if it ever airs on TCM again.