- Acting of Lead Performers
- Acting of Supporting Cast
- Music Score
- Title Sequence
- Historical Importance
- Would You Recommend?
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Ex Lady Worth the view
I so enjoyed this film. Swinging 20's attitudes are really in full view here. But - above & beyond the excellent performances in this delightful and brief romp - are the SETS!! If you love the look - Art Deco - of that time - let it pull you into this film. So well done. Thanks.
Pre-Code Feminism ala Bette Davis
Young, super lean, blonde and on the verge of bursting out of the bubble of junk the Warners had her performing, Bette Davis makes the most of this excellent script. It's obviously pre-code since Helen (Davis) and Don (Gene Raymond) are living together in the same bedroom, in the same bed, and not married. In fact, that's the issue the plot deals with: a woman doesn't want to marry and become the property of a man. He wants "rights" to her; but she says the only one that has any right to her is her. And this script is full blown feminism in the early 1930's. Thank you Bette Davis for being wise enough to know what women want long before it was popular to know.
Pre-Code Davis Film to Show
This is one of the pre-code films that Bette Davis stars in that should be shown on TCM. Since it is only a tad over an hour, like the short run time of many of Davis' pre-code films, it could fill in a programming gap with a really great film. The plot is what makes the film remarkably ahead of its time. Bette Davis' performance is what makes the film well worthy watching.
All Bette Davis Could Do in 1 Hour
The length of this pre-code gender romp is just over an hour. 25 year old Bette Davis acted circles around poor Gene Raymond, as one of her more memorable early characters: Helen Bauer. Just when it could be expected for an early feminist script to turn an audience off in the 1930's, just after women won the right to vote in the US of A, Bette Davis was a very clever character actor who nailed her role. Instead of being harshly independent as she sought the kinds of freedoms many woman sought then and now, Davis plays Bauer as very genuine, trying to break her beau into her ideals of being a modern woman who wouldn't be subervient to or property of any man with grace, humor and gently. Davis was doing more than acting a part: she was speaking to the viewing world in general about the equality of women.
Gender Snipes & Other Amusements
Armed with a very early feminist script, Bette Davis becomes Helen Bauer, a young woman seeking equality in her romantic relationship. This one is pre-code because Don Peterson (Gene Raymond) and Helen are already living together without being married. They also give the appearance that they are sleeping together, etc. Davis plays the role beautifully considering the script is filled with lines for a woman who's seeking equality with and from a man. Davis uses sincerity and humor to make her points ever so convincingly. This is one of Davis' early great performances.
Feminist Script Performed By Bette Davis
Frankly, I was quite surprised by the script in "Ex-Lady." Being well versed in feminist scholarship, it's a very early representation of what is known now as "third wave feminism." The plot is about Davis' character playfully but seriously coming to terms with how to have a marriage without the woman becoming subservient, submissive, domineered by, or secondary to her husband. Davis plays this role perfectly well because she's not a flag-waving, obnoxious fanatic. Instead, she's very sincere, amusing, and really have quite a good time with Gene Raymond as they round and round about how they are going to construst their marital relationship. Mind you, this must be pre-code because Davis' and Raymond's characters are already living together and obviously 'sleeping' together. What a terrific film. It should be on TCM and on DVD, both. By today's standards this is so clean cut that it makes modern films look salacious!
Lighthearted Romantic Romp
Bette Davis and Gene Raymond don't seem a likely pair but they perform so well that I love this film. Davis is only a 25 year old, in her extra thin, blonde and sassy period. She plays a young woman who has lots of reservations about getting married, What she really wants is equal rights in the relationship and not to become the property of her finace'. The script is amazingly ahead of its time as is Davis' very sincere performance.
Must See Early Bette Davis Gender Bender
Although this film is quite rare, OOP, and very hard to find, when attainable, it's well worth collecting. Davis a delivers some of the most radical early feminist ideas in such a palatable way: sweetly. It's a surprising script given how early in second wave feminism the film was made. Davis seems like the perfect actor to deliver the spirit of the message since she lived her life by that spirit, even though she didn't claim to be a feminist. The plot's about a couple (Davis and Raymond) struggling with power and equality in their relationshipin an oft times light a humorous way. A charming film.
Gender Play Classic: Request TCM Air It
Blonde, lean, sensuous and already a brilliant actress, Bette Davis becomes Helen Bauer in a fun-spirited gender equality themed classic. The problem is that TCM and other networks don't appear to have broadcast it! Why? Maybe it's the feminist script that Davis so poignantly delivers in the early 30's. That couldn't be the reason now, in 2009, could it? Is gender equality still too touchy a subject for networks to broach? Thinking that's not possible, what other reason could there be for omitting this choice film from programming? Is there some copyright keeping it out of the public? I own the VHS, so it was distributed by Turner! It is a "Warner Bros. and Vitaphone Picture," and "MGM/UA Turner Home Video." So Turner Classic Movies ::clearing my throat with a ahem:: where's this film? May we please have a 1 hour and 7 minute gander of this, your own company's film? Pretty Please, even?
One of my Favorite Early Davis Characters
Helen Bauer would have been my kind of gal had I been alive when she was being played by Bette Davis. I envy Gene Raymond getting to play the leading man who's her lover. Bette Davis was only a 25 year old when she had the lead in this delightful film. Not only does Miss Davis impress me quite bit with her acting techniques, she also impresses me as a very young adult who's got her career and life on a very firm foundation. No wonder she could play Helen Bauer so well. Her own life was so grounded and aimed dead ahead in high gear that she couldn't faulter. That is essentially what Helen Bauer wants out of her own life. That kind of autonomy.
a woman empowering film
"ex-lady" is about helen bauer (bette daivs) protecting her independence from a lover who wants to take it from her by way of marriage. he wasn't "rights" to her. no one has "rights" to her but her, she says sincerely. this film is surprisingly light-hearted and great fun to watch. the messages are heavily woman empowering. davis plays the part of the new woman who wants an egalitarian relationship brilliantly. davis is so far ahead of her time in this film, it's current right now!
The Future of Women
I was astounded after seeing Bette Davis in "Ex-Lady." The title should be "Future Woman," instead. The character Bette Davis depicts is Helen Bauer, a very young woman who's decided to be independent...of male domination. She won't marry the man she's living with, for example. My favorite line seems to be others' too, when Helen tells her boyfriend that nobody has rights to her but her. This must have come as quite a shock to audiences of 1933! 76 years later, in 2009, the future of women has caught up with the ideas in this film that weren't just uttered by Bette Davis, they were intimately shared and ever so sincerely expressed. This film should be broadcast, celebrated, and considered a classic it's so far ahead of its time.
Helen Bauer's (Bette Davis) a woman who could live in society as it is today. This film's theme is a battle of the genders one. Bauer's not going to marry her beau or be subservient to him, either. She considers herself any man's equal. This script is so historically important because it's well ahead of its time. Women hadn't started to change like Bauer had, until after the US was engaged in WWII (post-1941). Davis is only a 25yo, but you'd never know by the way she carries the lead. In a key scene when her beau's pleading his case in the kitchen about wanting "rights" to her, with her big blue eyes, she looks right into his with such gentle sincerity saying to him that nobody has rights to her but her. That scene alone is worth its weight in gold today. Own this when you can find it.
Great script and acting
Bette Davis is a fun young woman who's giving her lover a lot to consider. He (Gene Raymond as Don) wants to live with Helen (Davis). But she's independent and doesn't want to lose that by any guy thinking after they're married that she's his property. One of the lines Helen (Davis) says reveals her concern it goes sorta like this: Don says to Helen that he wants "rights" to her. Real genuinely, not at all snapping back at him, she looks into his eyes and asks, "Rights?" Then adds, "I'm the only one who as any rights to me." I could love that whole film for that one scene. However, it goes on with lots of laughs between Don and Helen, as well.
Best of the early Davis films
I have been very fortunate to own the early films of Bette Davis. In retrospect, the critics of the 1930's were flat out wrong about this collection. Out of all of Davis' early films, I'd definitely argue "Ex-Lady" is the best. She's Helen to Gene Raymond's Don. Lovers who are living together because Helen doesn't believe in marriage. The script is charged with lines that seem written for Davis. Raymond and she play off of each other's character's so well that it's a stretch to believe Davis is only a 24 year old performing a role that's half a century ahead of its time. Feminists ought to love this one! Davis is too cute.
"I'm a Man"
The actor who claimed not to be a "libber" (into women's liberation), played a woman who couldn't have spoken more feminist lines. In 1933 when she was only 25, no less. Yet this woman doesn't cram her demand for equality down her man's throat. Instead, they seem to be having a good deal of fun contending with her insistance upon gender equality in their relationship. Not only is the script tight and on point, Davis' acting is already typical of her ability. When both she and her boyfriend simulataneously say, "I'm a man," it's both a political statement and a comedy. That's why this film works.
15th Film of 41 in 8 years
Less than half way thru Bette Davis' films from 1931-1939, "Ex-Lady" is the best one of that period in her career. Miss Davis shouldn't have (if she ever did) count the script of this film as lousy. It's delightfully gender bending without being a battle of the sexes, per se. There's too much lighthearted humor in the film for that. Davis is in stride, poised to burst onto the public's radar screen as a great actor. This may be one of the films which demanded that Bette Davis be recognized as an actor who'd risen. Her delivery of lines demonstrates acting mastery.
"One of Those 1930's Films"
That's what Bette Davis thought about "Ex-Lady." It belonged with the types of films she didn't want to do. I'd like to point out to her that this film & her acting are extraordinary. Of Davis' 1930's films, this is my favorite classic. Why? Davis is 25yo, dyed to be blonde, skinny & under studio control. None of those stereotyped trappings overpower Bette Davis' acting talent. Her eye expressions, for example, convey volumes. The gender equality theme's current. Davis' comic timing is perfect. She delivers a feminist message without any harsh, bitter, bite.
Great Davis Gender Bender
Bette Davis was one of the rare few actors who succeeded in bending gender as a system of values and meanings early in her acting career in 1933. When Davis' character, Helen, looks into her boyfriend's eyes after he speaks of wanting "rights" to her and she questions him saying that no one has rights to her but her, Davis plays Helen as a sincere, cute, independent, egalitarian. Davis doesn't convey Helen's desires for gender equality with contempt or angst. She's a lovely loving lean blonde young woman who wants to enjoy being an equal partner instead.
Early Era Favorite
The way I view Bette Davis' lifetime of acting achievements is by eras: after all her career went through at least three.My favorite film of Davis' early era (when she was a 25yo in 1933) is "Ex-Lady." I recall the 1st time I viewed it after buying the VHS. My jaw probably dropped several times throughout the film. Especially when Davis' characater says to her beau, "Rights? No body has any rights to me but me." Then when both of them point at each other saying, "I'm a man." The script & Davis' delivery of it reveals she's headed for greatness.
Early Feminist Script
25yo, blonde, super-thin & very cute Bette Davis delivers the lines of a feminist script that was so ahead of its time the words fit women's sentiments today. I own 2 copies of this VHS & have reviewed it repeatedly. Davis not only portrays a charming young nontraditional woman who's easy on the eyes, she also sets a standard for movie goers to consider. In 1933 women weren't close to being equal to men. But thanks to Bette Davis' performance of a woman who gently & amusingly demands to be her man's equal, this early film is remarkable.