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In the sophisticated, pre-Code When Ladies Meet (1933), Myrna Loy plays a novelist who's enamoured with her publisher, Frank Morgan, who is married to Ann Harding. Loy's boyfriend, Robert Montgomery, tries to break up this budding romance by introducing Loy to Harding without telling either lady who the other is. When the cat is let out of the bag, Harding gives Loy some common-sense advice about straying husbands and the fireworks begin. Adding terrific energy and humor to the proceedings is Alice Brady as their cynical hostess; she almost single-handedly steals the movie.
"It is an intelligent and amusing production, even though as a film it is somewhat long on words and short on drama," wrote Mordaunt Hall in The New York Times. True, When Ladies Meet is rather verbose and stage bound (it's based on a play by Rachel Crothers), but its witty dialogue, Oscar®-nominated art direction and wonderful cast make it memorable. Loy was exactly one year away from cementing her fame forever with The Thin Man (1934). Brady was a superb actress who would be Oscar®-nominated two years later for her supporting performance in My Man Godfrey (1936); a year after that, she would win the award for In Old Chicago (1937).
Ann Harding was a fine, lovely but now-forgotten actress who specialized in tearjerkers at this stage of her career. After making 20 movies in eight years, she retired from the screen in 1937 to get married, only to return in the 1940s for a dozen more pictures. Myrna Loy in her autobiography remembered Harding as "a very private person, a wonderful actress completely without star temperament, but withdrawn."
As for the other stars of When Ladies Meet, Loy described Brady as "charming, funny and wonderful." Bob Montgomery adored her, and, both being great wits, they made very entertaining companions. We became a little coterie of three, occasionally going to her house or having something to eat after work. That kind of easy camaraderie is rare in pictures; everything goes so fast you very often don't get to know people."
Producer: Lawrence Weingarten
Director: Harry Beaumont
Screenplay: Leon Gordon, John Meehan, based on the play by Rachel Crothers
Cinematography: Ray June
Film Editing: Hugh Wynn
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons
Cast: Ann Harding (Clare Woodruf), Robert Montgomery (Jimmie Lee), Myrna Loy (Mary Howard), Alice Brady (Bridget Drake), Frank Morgan (Rogers Woodruf), Martin Burton (Walter Manners).
by Jeremy Arnold