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When audiences think of Irene Dunne, it is usually in a screwball comedy opposite Cary Grant like The Awful Truth (1937) or as the scatter-brained mother of Life with Father (1947). But early in her film career, RKO Pictures put Dunne into several "weepies" - melodramatic women's films which were the Lifetime Channel equivalent in the 1930s. A prime example of these was No Other Woman (1933)
Produced by David O. Selznick, No Other Woman tells the rags-to-riches-and-back-to-rags-again story of a mill owner (Charles Bickford) and his dutiful wife (played by Dunne) whose marriage is torn apart by a gold digger (Gwili Andre). When Dunne's character refuses to grant her husband a divorce, certain that it's just an infatuation that will run its course, her husband sues her and pays his employees to lie on the stand that Dunne was having an affair. While the accusations are untrue, Dunne "confesses" when she is threatened with losing custody of her son.
Based on the 1916 play Just a Woman by Eugene Walter which ran for 136 performances, it had been originally filmed as a silent in 1925 when Irving Cummings directed Claire Windsor and Conway Tearle for First National Pictures. The 1933 version would star Dunne and Bickford with support from Andre, Eric Linden and old reliable J. Carrol Naish as the evil attorney. Production began in early October 1932 and wrapped up on January 6, 1933.
At only 58 minutes, No Other Woman was shorter than the average "A" picture, but its brevity did not spare it negative reviews like Mordaunt Hall's from the January 30, 1933 New York Times unfortunately entitled "Irene Dunne and Charles Bickford in a Film Version of Eugene Walter's Old Play, Just a Woman". In it, Hall writes "even though there has been an effort to bring the story up to date and the leading players do all that is virtually possible with their roles, the pictorial translation of Eugene Walter's old play, Just a Woman which is now at the RKO Rosy under the title of No Other Woman, scarcely does credit to the playwright who wrote Paid in Full and The Easiest Way and who has also been responsible for several excellent film adaptations. J. Walter Ruben's direction is un-imaginative and the script from which he had to work is dull. As the narrative comes to the screen it lacks suspense and where it might be reasonably dramatic it is hopelessly implausible.[...]In one episode Anna becomes aware that she is a subject of gossip among other women. This dawns upon her while she is at the golf club and the anxiety she feels about her husband does not interfere with her golf, for she makes an excellent drive and then a pretty long putt. She is probably one of the few players who are not put off their game by worry. She hurries from the golf links to the train and goes to New York with the hope of bringing her husband to his senses. Miss Dunne's role is a thankless one, but she is attractive and sincere in the acting of it. Mr. Bickford likewise struggles valiantly with his part. Miss Andre is not especially impressive in her role and Eric Linden as Joe is merely acceptable."
Producer: David O. Selznick
Director: J. Walter Ruben
Screenplay: Wanda Tuchock, Bernard Schubert, Owen Francis, Eugene Walter (play)
Cinematography: Edward Cronjager
Film Editing: William Hamilton
Art Direction: Carroll Clark
Music: Max Steiner
Cast: Irene Dunne (Anna Stanley), Charles Bickford (James Stanley), Gwili Andre (Margot Van Dearing), Eric Linden (Joe Zarcovia), Christian Rub (Eli Bogavitch), Leila Bennett (Susie Bogavitch).
BW-58m. Closed captioning.
by Lorraine LoBianco
The New York Times "Irene Dunne and Charles Bickford in a Film Version of Eugene Walter's Old Play, Just a Woman " by Mordaunt Hall, January 30, 1933
The American Film Institute Catalog
The Internet Movie Database