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Joan Crawford had been an MGM contract player for 10 years and one of the studio's major stars for seven when she made No More Ladies (1935), a typically glossy vehicle in which she plays a beautiful young socialite who believes in marital fidelity. Still, she chooses to marry consummate philanderer Robert Montgomery rather than faithful suitor Franchot Tone (Crawford's husband at the time and her costar in seven films). Resentful of Montgomery's continuing infidelity, she takes revenge by organizing a party made up of his female conquests and their cuckolded husbands, and by pretending to have an affair with Tone.
The comedy is based on a 1934 play that starred Lucille Watson and Melvyn Douglas and enjoyed 176 performances on Broadway. Rachel Crothers, who wrote the adapted screenplay, complained publicly about the way MGM had altered her work, and had her name removed from the film's credits. Donald Ogden Stewart, author of The Philadelphia Story, provided some of the sophisticated dialogue and shows up onscreen in an uncredited bit as a drunk.
When original director Edward H. Griffith became ill and could not complete the film, George Cukor took over but declined an onscreen credit. The strong supporting cast includes Edna May Oliver as a tipsy grandmother, Arthur Treacher as a stuffy Britisher who misuses American slang, Charlie Ruggles as an incorrigible drunk and Gail Patrick as a glamorous mantrap. Newcomer Joan Fontaine, billed as Joan Burfield, also has a small role.
According to Crawford biographer Bob Thomas, Cukor -- known for his expertise at bringing out the best in talented female stars -- had little respect for Crawford's studied style of acting. Working with her for the first time, he was quite brusque in his comments. After Crawford had delivered one long speech to Montgomery, the director said, "Very fine, Miss Crawford. Now, would you please repeat it? You remembered the words; now let's put some meaning into them." Surprisingly, Crawford submitted to his criticisms and strove to please him. When she had the chance to work with Cukor again in The Women (1939), she jumped at it. Cukor would also direct her in Susan and God (1940) and A Woman's Face (1941).
Crawford showed her kind side to studio newcomer Patrick, whom she had earlier helped by providing tips on makeup, clothes and posing for glamour portraits. It was Crawford who insisted that Patrick be allowed to test for No More Ladies, and she helped ensure the test's success by lending the younger actress the services of her makeup man and hairdresser, along with a becoming gown by studio designer Adrian. Crawford declined any thanks, saying, "There was a time when I would have been grateful if anyone had helped me."
Producer: Edward H. Griffith, Irving Thalberg (both uncredited)
Director: Edward H. Griffith, George Cukor (uncredited)
Screenplay: Donald Ogden Stewart, Horace Jackson, Rachel Crothers (uncredited), Edith Fitzgerald (uncredited), George Oppenheimer (uncredited), from play by A.E. Thomas
Cinematography: Oliver T. Marsh
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons
Original Music: Edward Ward
Editing: Frank E. Hull
Costume Design: Adrian
Cast: Joan Crawford (Marcia Townsend Warren), Robert Montgomery (Sheridan "Sherry" Warren), Franchot Tone (Jim "Jimsy Boysie" Salston), Charles Ruggles (Edgar Holden), Edna May Oliver (Mrs. Fanny "Grandma" Townsend), Gail Patrick (Therese Germane), Reginald Denny (Oliver Allen), Arthur Treacher (Lord "Ducky" Knowleton), Joan Fontaine (Caroline "Carrie" Rumsey).
by Roger Fristoe