- Acting of Lead Performers
- Acting of Supporting Cast
- Music Score
- Title Sequence
- Historical Importance
- Would You Recommend?
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A Relic That's Quite Modern
When looking at these early sounds films, the prehistoric technical obstacles that were largely overcome within the next decade are hard to ignore, which makes "The Divorcee" a bit of a shock. The actual story-line and dialogue have a frankness and realism that shortly went unseen in films for the next 30 years. The precode era was only identified as such when these racy films finally returned to the viewing public in the early '90s on VHS after a 60 year absence. No one seemed to benefit from this as much as Norma Shearer, since many of her best performances were in her precode era, this one included. She won an Oscar for "The Divorcee" and, while some of her early scenes show her a bit chirpy and affected, she was coming into her own as a sound era actress and was beginning to use her voice to enhance characterization. No one could play a multi-dimensional emotional scene like Shearer and, while she is a bit posy at times, her work here is often rather modern in the way she underplays key scenes. Chester Morris also does good work as the errant husband, and only Robert Montgomery gives one of those hammy performances that permeate early sound films. This is worth a look, if only for the lovely Shearer beginning the period of her greatest film work.
The Beginning of an Era..The Divorcee
Not to say that the Pre-Code era wouldn't have happened without The Divorcee, but it sure made it easy to get off to a fantastic beginning! Often cited as the first film in the most dangerous era in classic movies, The Divorcee must have shocked 1930 viewers with its frankness and honesty about a modern marriage. Norma Shearer is fantastic as Jerry, a woman with free thinking beliefs so bold her husband pronounces them as striking as any man's...but marries her anyway. While he is free to admit to a one night stand, professing "it doesn't mean a thing", she must code her language by saying she "settled their account." That's the beauty of pre-code films. While there were still double standards between the treatment of men & women, the women often had the upper hand. She may not have been able to utter the fact that she too had an affair, the not so subtle 3 scene montage leading up to her coming home "the morning after" left little doubt in the viewers mind as to what happened. Her profession of freedom, once confronted by her husband, is worth the 84 minute run time of this Oscar winning classic. This is a movie that can be watched over & over again for the performances, the MGM mise en scene, Shearer's costumes and the brilliant mixture of silent movies vocabulary of looks, cuts and visual shorthand, with the genius of a smart screenplay of witty word play & sharp retorts.
Loved this movie..made me mad but ended happy
- kevin sellers
I see where the good ol American double standard made the transition from pre code to code with ease! Chester Morris (a wretched actor, by the way) sleeps around and "it doesn't mean a thing." His wife, (played well by Norma Shearer,) sleeps around and she's a Queen Hell Bitch. Upon such firm behavioral roots did chauvinism blossom until partially blighted by the rise of Feminism in the 60s/70s. That it still has a long way to go before it's completely obliterated can be seen in the mien of Donald Trump. But I digress. (Can you blame me, considering this creaky melodrama?) Let's give this rather dull, plodding film a C.
A Must See, ignore Stars
Sometimes I hate this Star system of grading films. In this case it may steer people away and it's a treasure of pre-code filmmaking with Shearer is at the top of her game.
Norma Shearer justifiably won the Academy Award for this film and she was never more beautiful than she was here. In her day, she was the first true feminist in the film industry but the term wasn't used back then. She had to fight for every chance she got, even for this film and even though Irving Thalberg was her husband and head of the studio. He didn't believe she was sexy enough for this part and, after having some sensuous photos taken, Shearer convinced him she could pull this part off - and, boy howdy, does she ever! Even though this film is pre-Code, you never quite feel that Shearer's character actually sleeps around to get back at her adulterous husband. She is shown cavorting with many partners around the world but her lines do not reflect adultery, just extreme flirtation. There is the timeless charade here of whether it is okay for a man to sleep around but not for a woman; however, it is not truly played out and, in this era, it could have been. I've always been amused by the backstory to Shearer and Joan Crawford. Crawford complained and was catty about the fact she couldn't get the good roles because she couldn't compete with someone "who was sleeping with the boss." Considering the fact that Shearer and Thalberg were married and very much in love, I found that really petty of Crawford. Crawford could not have pulled off this part as the divorcee, as she was too hard and not vulnerable as Shearer was. Watch the film and see what you think! I believe Shearer is simply outstanding in this film!
The one that started the Pre-Code era
This film is ahead of it's time. The story asks the question "If the world premits the husband cheat why not the wife?"The Divorcee does a great job with the question. The underrated Norma Shearer is wonderful as Jerry. She is able to convey everything that is going through the character's mind. She deserves her Oscar for this role. Though the ending is a product of it's time. It came out during the Great Depression so the audience wanted happy endings. But it is still a very good film.
THE DIVORCEE (1930)
- Jay Higgins
Norma Shearer is such a fabulous actress and so underrated and forgotten. She deservedly won an Oscar for this film. I loved her performance. The movie is a bit melodramatic, but very professionally done and entertaining.
I watched the movie 3 times...it's a great picture. Love the fashion and the furnishings of that era. Just a joy to watch...
What a gem to have discovered
I was afraid this would be an extremely "dated" movie, but was pleasantly surprised at the timelessness of the subject, as well as the superb acting from Norma Shearer. She was not one of my favorite actress until I finished watching this movie. I fell in love with her. I am usually used to seeing her in what I think are uninteresting roles of a certain type, but I was hooked from beginning to end. The supporting cast was excellent and I cannot wait to watch it again.
If you love Norma Shearer, campiness, a young Robert Montgomery, and sheer drama and shmaltz, this is THE movie to see...I saw it during the Robert Montgomery month (Jan. or Feb.??)...along with another favorite, "Blondie at the Follies"...I think we should have a Norma Shearer MONTH!!! She is wonderful, especially her earlier work....