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Barbara Stanwyck once again demonstrates her ability to make any film better simply by virtue of her presence in the Depression-era romantic comedy The Bride Walks Out (1936). Stanwyck stars as Carolyn, a young woman whose stubborn fianc Michael (Gene Raymond) convinces her to quit her lucrative fifty dollar a week job as a clothes model once they are married and live instead on his meager thirty-five dollar a week salary. With Carolyn unable to give up her love of some of life's little luxuries, the bills quickly begin piling up, which she hides from her oblivious husband while trying to figure out a solution. When a charming and wealthy man about town (Robert Young) falls for Carolyn, she is tempted by his lavish lifestyle and must ultimately choose between the two men.
Barbara Stanwyck had spent much of the 1930s building her acting career working at most of the different studios around Hollywood including Columbia, Twentieth Century-Fox and United Artists. In 1936 she was at RKO when studio executives decided to star her in The Bride Walks Out. Screwball comedies were all the rage during the 1930s, audiences thriving on a good laugh during the challenging times of The Great Depression. Most notable actresses of the time had tried screwball comedy at one time or another, the most successful of which were Irene Dunne, Claudette Colbert, Carole Lombard and Jean Arthur. Now it was Stanwyck's turn.
Stanwyck reportedly enjoyed herself immensely while making The Bride Walks Out, taking full advantage of the rare opportunity to play comedy. Director Leigh Jason later recalled fond memories of working with her, describing Stanwyck as "a delight" and "a real craftsman. She was the only one I ever worked with who would dig to the bitter end for what you really wanted -- and then give it to you."
The Bride Walks Out was released in the summer of 1936. It went on to do respectable business at the box office and win decent reviews from the critics who frequently singled out Stanwyck's talent for always distinguishing herself in any film.
While today's audiences may squirm a little with some of the film's outdated social attitudes, fans of Barbara Stanwyck will not be disappointed with this breezy light romp. The excellent veteran supporting cast is also a treat for comic relief which includes Ned Sparks and Helen Broderick as Carolyn and Michael's perpetually bickering married friends, Hattie McDaniel as the knowing maid and Billy Gilbert as a scene-stealing repo man.
Producer: Edward Small
Director: Leigh Jason
Screenplay: Philip G. Epstein, P.J. Wolfson Howard; Emmett Rogers (story)
Cinematography: J. Roy Hunt
Art Direction: Van Nest Polglase
Music: Roy Webb (uncredited)
Film Editing: Arthur Roberts
Cast: Barbara Stanwyck (Carolyn Martin), Gene Raymond (Michael Martin), Robert Young (Hugh McKenzie), Ned Sparks (Paul Dodson), Helen Broderick (Mattie Dodson), Willie Best (Smokie), Robert Warwick (Mr. McKenzie), Billy Gilbert (Mr. Donovan, Collector for Acme Furnature)
by Andrea Passafiume