Their Own Desire (1929)

Their Own Desire (1929)

Directed by E. Mason Hopper this early talkie (also released as a silent) uses a few placard for scene changes. It features Norma Shearer’s first Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.

Shearer plays the daughter of Belle Bennett and writer Lewis Stone who treats her as the son he never had. They play polo together. However after 23 years of marriage her 45 year old father has fallen for another woman Mrs. Cheever (Helene Millard). This is devastating to his wife who tries to take her life and his daughter. Shearer chastises her father about the woman and his behavior. Then she and her mom go off to spend the summer away from him at a mountain resort to facilitate the divorce.

At the resort’s pool Shearer meets a “wild” young man played by Robert Montgomery. When she dives off the platform into the water he jumps in fully clothed to kiss her underwater. He then aggressively pursues her cutting in on the person she’s dancing with and whisking her off to his car. They go for a drive and stay out until 3 AM. When Shearer returns to the hotel room her mother is upset with her and questions whether she should leave for a week long trip. She does and Shearer and Montgomery continue their romance until she finds out that he is Mrs. Cheever’s son and breaks it off. Meanwhile Stone and Cheever shunned at his club decide to go off to a private bungalow of their own.

But Montgomery hasn’t given up on Shearer and he continues to pursue her relentlessly. When he proposes with ring in hand he convinces her to elope but her mother returns and interrupts them before they leave. After speaking with her daughter alone and learning of Montgomery’s identity she locks herself in the bathroom and Shearer is led to believe that her mother has attempted suicide again. She causes a ruckus but when the door is broken down it is discovered that her mother has merely fainted due to the heat. However the reaction causes Shearer to realize that marrying Montgomery may literally kill her mother so she returns his ring and avoids him though he continues to pursue her (as before).

*** SPOILERS ***

One night when her mother is asleep Shearer notices Montgomery outside their hotel window. She goes to him and they canoe across the lake to get married (or have a tryst it’s unclear). A storm causes them to be thought lost drowned in the lake. Stone has had a premonition that something has happened to his daughter and rushes to the scene. After a three day search he finds them Montgomery unconscious and Shearer delirious. However both recover though he’s still in bed. The last frames are of them together she’s sitting on his bed playing with the engagement ring.

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