Lost Lady A (1934)
Directed by Alfred E. Green and starring Barbara Stanwyck (in the title role) and Frank Morgan this slightly above average drama is about a woman who tragically loses her philandering fiancé just before they were to have been wed causing her to give up on giving life much of a chance until she meets Morgan. He helps her to live again and they marry basing their marriage on honesty in lieu of love. However she does eventually fall in love again; the only problem is it’s with another man played by Ricardo Cortez turning her eternal optimist husband into “a lost man” himself. She and her husband must then each face difficult decisions.
Marian Ormsby (Stanwyck) couldn’t be happier; within 48 hours she’ll be married to Ned Montgomery (Phillip Reed) the love of her life. Unfortunately Ned is confronted by a jealous husband shortly thereafter and is shot dead. Marian withdraws from society and does little until her father (Henry Kolker) suggests that she go and stay at their mountain retreat a happy place from her childhood. She’s attended to by longtime family maid Rosa (Rafaela Ottiano) who’s almost a surrogate mother for Marian. While taking a walk by the shore by herself Marian falls but is soon “rescued” by Dan Forrester (Morgan) and his trusty collie. Forrester takes an interest in Marian and follows her recovery determined to help her out of her bleak outlook with his own efforts for many months. Finally she starts living again and accepts the older Dan’s proposal saying that as long as he knows she doesn’t love him that their marriage will be based upon honesty instead.
Marian is soon introduced to Dan’s Chicago law partners (Walter Walker and Samuel Hinds) and his apprentice Neil Herbert (Lyle Talbot). Edward McWade plays the firm’s receptionist who’s surprised (as are they all) to learn of his boss’s nuptials. As a wedding gift for his wife the highly successful and wealthy Dan builds a dream home of her choosing on a large estate where she becomes a hostess famous for her parties. Rosa continues as Marian’s maid; Hobart Cavanaugh plays Forrester’s butler Willie Fung his chef. There are some pathetic attempts at humor between these two male servants. Neil falls in love with the beautiful (younger than her husband) Mrs. Forrester they play tennis but Marian tells her that there is to be no future relationship with her while at the same time reminding him how important he is to her husband’s business. He accepts these conditions and stays with the firm though he’s disappointed to see Marian later fall in love with a brash playboy pilot named Frank Ellinger (Cortez). While Dan was away on business Ellinger had landed his plane on the Forrester’s land and more or less “forced” Marian to love him.
Marian tells Frank she must tell Dan about their love because of her deep respect for him and the honesty on which their marriage was based. Frank agrees to put his plans of whisking her away on hold for a couple of days. When Marian tells Dan he is devastated. Even though his wife had been giving him very little it was enough; clearly giving his love to her was very important to him. On the eve of a big case he stays up all night thinking about what she’s just told him such that he’s physically overcome shortly into the trial. Marian tells Frank she can’t run away with him now not when Dan needs her so much and after all he’d done for her.
*** SPOILERS ***
Frank leaves never to be seen again but Dan doesn’t want Marian either too wounded is he per what she’d told him. Just after when Marian declared to Neil that she’s “a lost lady” she has an idea. She plays some music (“The Very Thought of You”) on the piano that gives Dan hope. Joining him they realize that both of them are in love with each other … and they live happily ever after.