The Divorcee

  • 1930
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Drama

Norma Shearer, in an Oscar-winning role, tries daringly to confront the double standard, but not upset her legion of fans (or the censors) who wouldn't approve of her really letting loose. Thankfully, something always gets in the way. The plot is a trifle: her husband (Morris) cheats on her, but won't hear of her doing the same. They divorce, and since...read more

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Norma Shearer, in an Oscar-winning role, tries daringly to confront the double standard, but not upset her legion of fans (or the censors) who wouldn't approve of her really letting loose. Thankfully, something always gets in the way. The plot is a trifle: her husband (Morris) cheats on

her, but won't hear of her doing the same. They divorce, and since Jerry (Shearer) is supposedly liberated from the shackles of matrimony, she flirts with several men (Montgomery and Nagel) before the requisite New Year's Eve reconciliation with her ex.

Based on Ursula Parrott's then-steamy novel Ex-Wife, much of the spirit has been laundered out here. (Things would become much worse, though, after the 1934 Production Code clampdown, so enjoy the spice that survives.) Shearer turns in a fine performance of the silken suffering which was her

pre-Code specialty. While never in the same league, beauty-wise, with Garbo and Crawford, the other two of MGM's big three, she had a definite image advantage for many prestige pictures. Seemingly American (she was Canadian), she could play the moderns Garbo could not, but in more ladylike turns

than Crawford. Being the pope's wife--she was married to production genius Irving Thalberg--never hurt her, either. (In all fairness, however, she was a star before she and Thalberg tied the knot, and audiences genuinely liked her as well.) Whether or not you like Shearer and THE DIVORCEE depends

on how you respond to this particular "tease" variety of soap opera, but this enjoyable film stands as an index to the sexual politics of an era.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: Norma Shearer, in an Oscar-winning role, tries daringly to confront the double standard, but not upset her legion of fans (or the censors) who wouldn't approve of her really letting loose. Thankfully, something always gets in the way. The plot is a trifle:… (more)

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