That Certain Woman

  • 1937
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama

Undistinguished weeper in the genre of STELLA DALLAS and CONFESSION that indicated Davis' star position at Warners when she demanded who would play opposite her. Ed Goulding wrote and directed this remake of THE TRESPASSER, which he made in 1929 with Gloria Swanson. Davis is the teenage bride of a bootlegger. When he was cut down by a hail of machine gun...read more

Where to Watch

Available to Stream

Rating:

Undistinguished weeper in the genre of STELLA DALLAS and CONFESSION that indicated Davis' star position at Warners when she demanded who would play opposite her. Ed Goulding wrote and directed this remake of THE TRESPASSER, which he made in 1929 with Gloria Swanson. Davis is the teenage

bride of a bootlegger. When he was cut down by a hail of machine gun bullets, she decided that it was time for her to try to find a better life. She signs on as secretary to unhappily married Hunter, an attorney who loves her but strives valiantly to keep business and pleasure separated. Hunter's

most important client is Crisp, whose playboy son, Fonda, spends his time between the bars of cafe society and the watering spots of Europe. When he returns home from his latest trip abroad, he meets and falls for Davis, and she agrees to marry him. They elope, but Crisp is appalled by Fonda's

choice of a wife. He'd hoped his son would wed someone more of their caste. Crisp has the honeymooners trailed and pushes hard to get the marriage set aside by annulment. Fonda, who has no income of his own, is totally beholden to his father and thus acquiesces at once. Davis loves Fonda dearly

but understands the position he's in and agrees to the split, then takes her old job at Hunter's office. Soon she discovers that the honeymoon left her pregnant. She gives birth to Day and swears Hunter to secrecy about the father of the boy. Fonda finally marries a woman, Louise, of whom Crisp

approves. Fonda's marital luck continues poorly as Louise is almost fatally injured in an automobile accident after a few days of marriage. Hunter falls ill with some unnamed fever. He is taken to the hospital, and it looks as though he will expire momentarily, but he struggles out of his hospital

bed and trudges to Davis' residence, where he gives up the ghost. Before breathing his last, Hunter admits to Davis that he has adored her from the instant they met. Knowing her situation, he has written a new will which leaves Davis and Day enough money so she needn't ever struggle again. When

the terms of his will are published, his widow, Alexander, wrongly suggests that Day is Hunter's illegitimate son. Fonda's wife is still bedridden and holding on when Fonda learns of Davis' motherhood and the terms of Hunter's will, which Alexander is trying to overturn. WhenFonda comes to Davis,

she tells him he is the boy's real father. Crisp goes into action once he knows that he has a grandson. He starts proceedings to take Day away from Davis on the unfair grounds that she is an unfit mother. (This plot turn is a convenience; there is no court which might find the loving Davis unfit.)

Davis thinks she won't be able to keep her son under the legal onslaughts being prepared by Crisp, so she offers Day to Fonda and Louise for adoption. After giving Day to the couple, Davis goes to Europe and lives in a lonely fashion on the money she received from Hunter's will. As you might

imagine, the injured Louise finally dies and Fonda leaves after the funeral to go to Europe and find Davis. Fonda professes his love for her, and the match that began a little over an hour before is now again ignited. Early in her teens, Davis worked as a bit player in a stock company where Fonda

played the leads. She had a puppy love crush on him, but he was so busy memorizing his roles that he paid her little attention. When her star rose at Warners, she was able to insist on whomever she wished, and she chose Fonda for JEZEBEL and this. Fonda was three years older but didn't get his

break in films until THE FARMER TAKES A WIFE in 1935, while Davis had already been in movies since 1931's BAD SISTER. In an interview with Johnny Carson in 1986, Davis admitted that she was a maiden when she was married for the first time, and her New England upbringing didn't allow her to have

affairs without benefit of clergy. If she had it to do all over again, she would have wished to have been born later to take advantage of more modern traditions. Knowing that about Davis makes one realize how good an actress she was, because so many of the roles she played were in direct contrast

to her deep-seated conservative Yankee life.

Cast & Details See all »

  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Undistinguished weeper in the genre of STELLA DALLAS and CONFESSION that indicated Davis' star position at Warners when she demanded who would play opposite her. Ed Goulding wrote and directed this remake of THE TRESPASSER, which he made in 1929 with Glori… (more)

Show More »