No Other Woman (1933)
Produced by David O. Selznick and directed by J. Walter Ruben this “run of the mill” drama boasts a couple of big name stars Irene Dunne and Charles Bickford. Marred by poor stilted acting (particularly by Bickford) what may have been a better film is simply too pat with an overly melodramatic ending. Realizing the film itself is more than 70 years old it’s hard to fault the plot by itself one which has been done so many times in various forms since; it’s rather simplistic and common. The film which runs less than an hour also features one of the Gwili Andre’s few performances as the titled woman.
Jim Stanley (Bickford) is a big burly steel worker who takes home more than everyone else. His girlfriend Anna (Dunne) dreams of better things ways to escape the steel company town which claimed her father with another slight thinking young man Joe Zarcovia (Eric Linden). Though Anna vows she’ll never marry a steel worker Jim’s animal magnetism overwhelms her and the next thing you know they’re being married. Jim’s best friend Eli Bogavitch (Christian Rub) brags that no man can give more money (a traditional dowry celebration?) to the bride as he pins some bills to her dress to have the second (after the groom) dance. Each attendant man in succession does the same until her dress is “littered” with bills.
But Anna sticks to a plan saves excess money scrimps saves and even takes in boarders until after two years the Stanley’s have over $6000 in the bank. Then one day Joe (who evidently also lives with them) discovers a formula for dye that Anna sees as an investment opportunity that may free them from the steel town forever. Jim comes home sick of his wife’s miserly ways and all the foreigners staying under their roof and scoffs at Anna’s idea. He proceeds to take his paycheck and blows it drinking and cavorting all night with another woman. When he returns home past 2 AM Anna is heartbroken. But she’s ready to forgive him the next day and an apologetic Jim is excited to hear about Joe’s invention. Jim turns out to be a whiz of a businessman such that within 5 years he’s parlayed the dye business into a multi-million dollar operation large enough to acquire his biggest competitor for $4 million.
Of course now that he’s made something of himself with a wife and child back home in Pittsburgh Jim falls for a blonde Margot Van Dearing (Andre) such that he hardly returns home from New York anymore. Misunderstood by her lawyer friend Bonelli (J. Carrol Naish) Margot has designs on Jim and manipulates him into asking Anna for a divorce so that he can marry her. When Anna refuses – she still loves him is willing to forgive him thinks he’ll eventually come to his senses and return to her – he sues her in court. Bonelli comes forth with a bunch of witnesses including the Stanley’s domestic staff to testify that Anna was unfaithful.
*** SPOILERS ***
Despite the defense’s character witnesses including Anna who refute the testimony of those who accuse her Anna loses the case and sole custody of her son is awarded to Jim. Anna goes ballistic and begins a tirade speech while Jim hides his head in his hands that she is guilty of all the charges but that they can’t take her son because it isn’t Jim’s! At this point Jim’s had enough he admits to paying the others to lie about Anna’s affair and is sentenced to 1-5 years in prison. After a year he returns to the steel town where Joe and Eli seeing him. He’s too ashamed to return to Anna and is ready to move on when Anna catches him in his boarding house room declares AGAIN her undying love for him. When their young son Bobbie comes rushing into the room the deal is sealed … and they live happily ever after (gag me!).