Kept Husbands is a pre-code film but not the kind of pre-code that I love watching where there is subtle or sometimes not very subtle risqué moments and lines. This pre-code is dull and boring in every way. Shame on me I should have known that a film with this title would be about the battle of the classes and a man who is literally bought by his wife. Almost as soon as the film started I knew I was in trouble but once I start watching a movie I have to see it to its bitter end.
Dorothea “Dot” Parker (Dorothy MacKaill) is a spoiled rich girl who is always out looking for a good time. Her father owns a steel plant and he invites a young employee with a great future at the plant named Dick Brunton (Joel McCrea). Dot wanted nothing to do with meeting Dick she wanted to go out but as soon as she sets her eyes on Dick she sinks her claws in deep. She bets her friend Charlie that within four weeks she can get Dick to marry her.
Well in four weeks Dot meets up with Dick, charms him, proposes to him, and he agrees. Her father gives Dick a high position within the company along with a raise. The new couple vacation across Europe on the father’s dime whenever they run out of money. Dick is not happy to be relying on Dot’s father for money he wants to be the man and pay for things not the wife.
When they come home Dot’s father has bought them a huge house and throws a party for their home coming. At work Dick has nothing productive to do except to look at a book on strategies to play Bridge. The father gives Dick the important job to talk to important men to sell them the idea to build a bridge in St. Louis. Dot is upset with him because she has several engagements coming up including that night where her friends are giving a party for them. She refuses to go to St. Louis and tries to guilt him into not going but it does not work. Upset Dot does not go to the party instead she goes to Charlie’s apartment for some drinks and a role playing game. By two in the morning Dot wants to go home telling Charlie that she has to be on an early train to St. Louis.
Dick did not make it to the train because he did not want to leave things off on a bad note with Dot while he was away. He called the country club where the party was to be twice and on the second time he is told that the party has disbanded. He hears a car, looks out the window where he sees Dot getting out of Charlie’s car. When he asks where she was she says the party but the morning papers say that the party givers were thrown in jail the night before. Dick tells Dot that he is tired of being a kept husband he has lost his pride and his manhood and she pretty much tells him she does not care and he angrily leaves the house.
The next day Dick cannot be found. Dot’s father is very upset with her because Dick is a good worker and good man and that she has ruined his pride. Dot truly realizes what she has done when her father knows where Dick has most likely gone. The father catches Dick at the station before the train to St. Louis leaves. When Dick walks into his room on the train Dot is there. She tells him she is very sorry and is willing to be with him no matter what he makes and asks if they can start over again with him this time proposing to her.
Needless to say all is happy in the end.
Joel McCrea and Ned Sparks who plays a border in Dick’s mother’s house were the only good actors in the film. McCrea’s acting is not even that great compared to his other films. Dorothy MacKaill was horribly annoying and not a very good actress whatsoever.
Kept Husbands is films only to see if you are a big Joel McCrea fan other than him skip the film altogether.