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Woman Against Woman

Woman Against Woman(1938)

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Lawyer Stephen Holland has been spending the last several years of his married life bowing to the wishes of his selfish wife Cynthia. When Dora, his former childhood nurse, decides to leave the Holland household, she warns him that Cynthia's selfishness will destroy him and their little daughter Ellen. That evening, Stephen finally decides to leave Cynthia, and a short time later, they are divorced. His mother, taken in by Cynthia's pretense of sweetness, sides with her and advises Stephen to refrain from seeing their daughter for a while to keep the child from being upset. Although against the idea, Stephen must leave for an important case in Washington, and so accepts her suggestion. Several months later, Stephen meets Maris Kent at a reception given by his friend, Senator John Kinglsey, and his wife Emma. Stephen and Maris, whom he prefers to call "Jenny," soon fall in love and marry, despite warnings by her grandmother and Emma that divorces are not always as final as they may seem. Mrs. Holland invites them to return to their small town, which Emma calls "enemy territory," and live with her, despite the fact that she still sympathizes with Cynthia. Maris and Stephen find it difficult to start a new life because they frequently see Cynthia at social gatherings. Cynthia repeatedly tries to embarrass Maris and coerce Stephen into thinking she has changed. On Christmas, she uses Ellen's affection for Stephen to try and keep him from being with Maris. Soon Steve's and Maris' lives become so difficult that she suggests that they move away for a while alone, but he begs her to stay, and she agrees. After an evening at the country club turns into an embarrassment for Maris, who is snubbed by Cynthia's friends, Stephen talks to his ex-wife and she pretends to be understanding of his position. A short time later, Stephen reads in the social news that Cynthia has taken Ellen to an inn at a nearby lake. While they are at the inn, Cynthia tries to convince Ellen that she has a sore throat and tells the little girl that "Daddy" might visit them if he knew she were ill. Though the child innocently says that she is trying, but doesn't feel ill, Cynthia calls Stephen late one evening and says that Ellen is ill. Rather than filling in details, Cynthia simply infers by her tone that the child may be seriously ill. After the phone call, Maris tells Stephen that Cynthia is just trying to worry him as a trick. To settle things once and for all, they both decide to drive to the inn, accompanied by Stephen's mother. Once there, the three are shocked to learn that Cynthia is in the ballroom dancing. While Stephen goes upstairs to see Ellen, Maris confronts Cynthia and tells her that her game is over. When Stephen finally speaks with Cynthia, she tries to talk her way out of her predicament, but it is no use. This time, not only Maris, but Stephen and his mother now know that Cynthia has merely been using her daughter as a weapon to get Stephen back. Finally, with Cynthia no longer able to interfere in their lives, Maris and Stephen look to their own future together.