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Claire Landin (Kay Francis) is a beautiful, wealthy, highly desirable woman in the comic melodrama Women Are Like That (1938). She's so desirable in fact, that when the film opens Claire is whisked away from her own imminent wedding to Martin Brush (Ralph Forbes) -- wearing her white wedding gown and all -- by the man Willie Landin (Pat O'Brien) who suddenly realizes he can't live without her.
Willie and Claire marry, and appear to be the ideal couple: good-looking, privileged, and utterly enraptured with each other. That is until Claire's father Cladius King (Thurston Hall) absconds to Europe, squandering the fortune of the advertising firm where both Willie and Martin also work.
Willie makes his fellow employees swear not to tell Claire that her charming swindler father has sent the company into economic distress. As Willie struggles to keep the firm afloat, and Martin nearly ruins the company with his penny-pinching, Claire has a brilliant idea. She will use her personal sex appeal and animal magnetism to sell a client on a pitch for Bel-Ami beauty products, the same pitch that her husband prepared but then discarded.
Claire's first foray into the business world is a smashing success and a boon to her husband's struggling company. But she also incurs Willie's wrath. Her husband is threatened by his wife's venture into business and the feeling that he is being upstaged by her success. He sees Claire's actions as a personal affront and runs off on a drunken, whirlwind world tour to escape what he apparently sees as his wife's emasculating power. While Willie flees the humiliation of having a working wife, Claire rises in the business world, becoming a role model to other career women. Eventually, Claire and Willie become business rivals. But, as was typical for the time when a happy union was privileged above all, Women Are Like That concludes with the status quo affirmed. Adapted from the Albert Carr story "Return From Limbo" Women Are Like That was the second Carr story brought to the screen following Let's Get Married (1937) starring Ida Lupino.
Made near the end of her Warner Brothers contract, Women Are Like That spotlights star Kay Francis as her usual charming sophisticate saddled with a husband who is not her equal in either humor or forward-thinking. Known for her witty and elegant roles in films like Ernst Lubitsch's Trouble in Paradise (1932) Francis was also a serious fashion plate whose female fans flocked to see her glamorous onscreen wardrobes. In 1937 Francis was named the sixth most popular female star with a weekly pay upwards of $5,000 to match that status. Though at one time tagged "The Queen of Warner Bros." her stint at the studio eventually disintegrated into enmity and conflict when Francis felt she was not getting the roles she deserved.
Francis launched her definitive legal battle with Warner Bros. during the production of Women Are Like That, anxious to end her contract with the studio. But her previous film also directed by Stanley Logan, First Lady (1937) did not help Francis's case. First Lady had been a critical and box office bust. It also signaled a real downturn in Francis's career. Compounding that downward slide, Women Are Like That was unfortunately not the big success Francis would need to buoy her career. Variety in fact, called it "another disappointment for Kay Francis," an unfortunately dismissive assessment of a film whose good humor and fair amount of charm is carried on the back of Ms. Francis.
Director: Stanley Logan
Screenplay: Horace Jackson (screenplay); Albert Z. Carr (story)
Cinematography: Sid Hickox
Art Direction: Max Parker
Film Editing: Thomas Richards
Cast: Kay Francis (Claire Landin/Miss Claire King), Pat O'Brien (William 'Bill'/'Willie' Landin), Ralph Forbes (Martin Brush), Melville Cooper (Leslie Mainwaring), Thurston Hall (Claudius King), Grant Mitchell (Franklin Snell), Gordon Oliver (Howard Johns), John Eldredge (Charles Braden), Herbert Rawlinson (Avery Flickner), Hugh O'Connell (George Dunlap).
BW-79m. Closed Captioning.
by Felicia Feaster