Cast & Crew
When a job assignment forces him to relocate in India, English businessman Robert Maury ignores the admonitions of his spinster sister Honora and sends his young country wife Elsie to live in Paris for a year. After a short time in Paris, Elsie loses her social naivete and becomes a sophisticated woman-about-town, attracting the attention of Don Arturo de Borgus, a handsome Spanish bachelor. Out of fear that her attachment to Arturo will lead her to adultery, Elsie informs the Spaniard that their year-long platonic affair must end. On the same day, Elsie receives word that Robert will be arriving from India that night, thus strengthening her resolve to terminate her relationship with Arturo. The ever persistent Arturo, however, begs Paula Vrain, a friend of Elsie, to invite Elsie to a party at a viscountess' home that afternoon. At the party, Arturo romances Elsie and, after a slow tango, convinces her to join him for a few days at his estate in Spain. To Elsie's surprise, Robert, having arrived early in Paris, shows up at the party and is stunned by the changes he perceives in his wife. Elsie, too, finds Robert transformed--colder and more distant--and her discomfort encourages her to postpone her departure for London and slip away to Arturo's remote estate. There, Arturo and his servant Serafin plot to seduce Elsie, who soon succumbs to the don's kisses. Before she will make love to him, however, Elsie insists on writing a letter to Robert in which she declares her love for the nobleman. As Elsie is about to give in to Arturo, Carlos, a local peasant, enters and reveals that the don had seduced his teenaged daughter, who then died in childbirth. Elsie watches horrified as Juan kills Arturo, then remembers the damning letter that has already been mailed to Robert. Unable to intercept the letter in Spain, Elsie rushes home to England and waits day after day for the letter to arrive. Her interest in the mail arouses the suspicions of Honora, who finds a newspaper clipping in which Arturo's murder is discussed in connection with a mysterious "dark lady." Sure that Elsie is the "dark lady," Honora accuses her of adultery in front of a disbelieving Robert, then announces her intention to move. Later, Serafin shows up at the house, posing as a businessman, and threatens to show Robert the letter, which he had never mailed, if Elsie refuses to help him defraud her husband in a business deal. Robert, having overheard Serafin's threats, grabs the envelope and reveals that it contains only blank paper. Thus unarmed, Serafin is forced to depart, while Elsie, who realizes that Arturo had substituted her letter for blank paper, tries to confess to Robert. The devoted Robert, however, refuses to listen and embraces his repentant wife.
John St. Polis
Parisian decadence is expressed succinctly in an early beauty shop scene where Elsie, guided by her jaded older friend Paula Vrain (Doris Lloyd) chooses from ever more absurd ointments and fashion trends including the query of whether she wants her eyebrows plucked into a "plaintive" or "penetrating" expression. Paula reminds her that this season, plaintive is all the rage.
Taken under the wing of woman-of-the-world Paula, Elsie is soon painting her face, tossing back cocktails and making the decadent Paris party scene. Her beauty attracts the roving eye of a slick, Spanish ladies man Don Arturo (Ricardo Cortez) whose fondest desire is to get Elsie alone in his remote, mountaintop Spanish villa. He is aided and abetted in this nefarious mission by Paula, who promises to act as Elsie's chaperone, and Arturo's scheming butler Serafin (John St. Polis). When Robert returns from India and sees the changes Paris has wrought, he calls Elsie back to England. Wanting one final goodbye with her friends, Elsie makes the mistake of agreeing to visit Arturo's villa where a number of disturbing surprises are waiting that threaten to destroy her marriage. In keeping with the moral strictures of the age, many acrobatic twists and turns are made to reaffirm the sanctity of marriage by the film's end despite previous lurid pre-Hays Code talk of adultery, illegitimate children, murder and blackmail.
That Romeo-for-all-seasons Ricardo Cortez played no-good Don Arturo in not only the 1931 RKO production Transgression, but in a 1924 silent Paramount version of the story, The Next Corner directed by Sam Wood and also starring Conway Tearle, Lon Chaney and Dorothy Mackaill. Kay Francis was borrowed from Paramount, and Paul Cavanagh from Fox for Transgression.
Born Katherine Edwina Gibbs, Oklahoma City native Francis was mentioned for her "clear portrayal," in a New York Times review of Transgression that also declared Cavanagh "excellent," and, "another expert performance is that of Nance O'Neil, who handles the role of Honora Maury." After a brief Broadway career, Francis made her most lasting mark in Hollywood. Her debut came with Gentlemen of the Press (1929), a role secured with the help of Walter Huston. Francis was one of the tallest leading ladies of the Thirties at almost 5'10", whose distinctive voice and elegant carriage made her the leading glamour girl of the era. Offscreen Francis was known for her fondness for men expressed in numerous affairs (directors like Rouben Mamoulian, Fritz Lang and Otto Preminger were reputed conquests) and five marriages. Director George Cukor believed that all great stars had a secret and that Francis's expressions suggested she was hiding an especially saucy one. In 1932, Francis moved from Paramount to Warner Brothers where she was promised better pay and star status. There Francis became a reliable box office draw, even despite the distinction of 1932 being one of the worst box office years in the industry. She would return to Paramount to make one of her most memorable films, the cosmopolitan Ernst Lubitsch romp, Trouble in Paradise (1932).
Writer Mick LaSalle said of Francis in his study of Pre-Code Hollywood Complicated Women, "Too warm and matter-of-fact to be a blue-blood, she played women from modest backgrounds who, all the same, were comfortable in the upper reaches of society. She was a vision of elegance, good nature and intelligence and she brought a natural authority to her roles as a professional woman." But Francis was eventually trapped within a stereotype of lavish wardrobes and sets that limited her range. Her career petered out after World War II with roles in several Poverty Row Monogram Pictures and an eventual return to Broadway.
Her premature death from cancer at age 63 came with an interesting coda. Without heirs, Francis left over $1 million to Seeing Eye, a company that trains guide dogs for the blind.
Director: Herbert Brenon
Producer: William LeBaron
Screenplay: Elizabeth Meehan and Benn W. Levy based on the novel by Kate Jordan, The Next Corner
Cinematography: Leo Tover
Production Design: Max Rée
Music: Max Steiner (uncredited)
Cast: Kay Francis (Elsie Maury), Paul Cavanagh (Robert Maury), Ricardo Cortez (Don Arturo de Borgus), Nance O'Neil (Honora Maury), Doris Lloyd (Paula Vrain), John St. Polis (Serafin).
by Felicia Feaster
The working titles of this film were The Next Corner and Around the Corner. RKO borrowed Kay Francis from Paramount and Paul Cavanagh from Fox for this production. Contemporary reviews and copyright records credit Cissy FitzGerald with the role of "Countess Longueval." Onscreen credits, which are confirmed by still photographs, however, list Ruth Weston in the part. It is not known if FitzGerald appeared in the film. Film Daily news items also add Ethier Crispin Martini and Alphonse DeCruz to the cast, but their participation in the final film has not been confirmed. A French-language version of this film was also produced-see record for Nuit d'Espagne. In 1924, Sam Wood directed Conway Tearle, Lon Chaney and Dorothy Mackaill in a silent Paramount version of this story called The Next Corner.