skip navigation
Design for Living

Design for Living(1933)

Remind Me

TCMDb Archive MaterialsView all archives (1)

DVDs from TCM Shop

Design for Living An independent woman... MORE > $19.47 Regularly $29.95 Buy Now blu-ray


powered by AFI

On a train bound for Paris, commercial artist Gilda Farrell meets fellow Americans George Curtis, a painter, and Thomas B. Chambers, a playwright, who share an apartment in the Bohemian section of Paris. Gilda works for prudish advertising agent Max Plunkett, who is currently running an ad campaign for Kaplan and McGuire's non-wrinkling underwear featuring Gilda's caricature of Napoleon in his skivvies. Although Max has known Gilda for five years, he has never gotten to first base with her romantically. After he discovers Gilda's separate rendezvous with Tom and George, whom he calls "hooligans," Max warns each of them that "immorality might be fun, but not fun enough to take the place of one hundred percent virtue and three square meals a day." Tom decides the line makes a good close for the first act of his new play, and when he reads it to George, each realizes that the other is in love with Gilda. Although they make a pact to forget Gilda, when she calls for a visit, neither one can turn her down. She arrives and confesses to each that she saw the other behind his back. Unable to choose between them, she suggests that they forget sex and concentrate on their work and all three make a gentleman's agreement to do so. Gilda moves in and becomes a "mother of the arts" by encouraging the boys' talent while deflating their egos. Soon Tom has sold his play to a London theatrical producer and must leave Paris for five weeks. Without Tom's presence, George and Gilda can no longer restrain themselves and break their agreement, then send word to Tom in London. Even though Tom's play is a big success and he is welcomed into London society, he is heartbroken over Gilda. When he runs into Max at the theatre, Max tells him George is now a prominent painter, and Tom goes to Paris that night to see him. When he arrives, he learns that George has left their old flat and has moved into a penthouse apartment. Although George is in Nice for a commissioned portrait, his "secretary," Gilda, is at home, and she and Tom rekindle their love. The next morning, George comes home early and, finding Tom in a tuxedo for breakfast, realizes he and Gilda have made love and tells them both to get out. George offers to take Gilda to London that afternoon, but she writes each of them a good-bye note and runs away to marry Max in Manhattan. On her wedding night, Gilda receives two potted flowers from Tom and George and is so distracted by the stunt that she fails to consummate her marriage to Max. Max later hosts a party for his advertising clients in order to be accepted into society and Gilda reluctantly plays the role of the bourgeois corporate wife. In the middle of a game of "Twenty Questions," Tom and George enter in tuxedos and go immediately to inspect Gilda's boudoir. Tired of inane parlor games, Gilda retires upstairs, but Max follows, urging her to ask an important client, Mr. Egelbauer, to sing. She refuses and then discovers Tom and George hiding in her bedroom. Max then walks in on them laughing on the bed and orders the hooligans out. Tom and George then proceed to the livingroom, where they mock Egelbauer's singing and cause a brawl, and the guests all leave. Gilda then tells Max she's leaving him for the sake of his business, and joins Tom and George in a cab, bound for Paris, and all three renew their gentleman's agreement.