But the Flesh Is Weak


1h 17m 1932
But the Flesh Is Weak

Brief Synopsis

A widower and his son set out to marry rich widows.

Film Details

Also Known As
A Family Affair, Mister and Mistress, The Truth Game
Genre
Comedy
Drama
Adaptation
Release Date
Apr 9, 1932
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Distributing Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play The Truth Game by Ivor Novello (London, 5 Oct 1928).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 17m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8 reels

Synopsis

Londoner Max Clement and his father Florian are impoverished, but handsome and charming, enabling them to eek out a paltry living off rich women. Florian tries to convince Max to make a good marriage with a rich woman to ensure his future, but Max always cancels at the last minute to romance prettier, but poorer women. When he meets the wealthy Lady Joan Culver, who is plain, but very kind, she takes him to a party at her home, where he meets the beautiful Mrs. Rosine Brown, a Viennese widow, with whom he falls immediately in love. The next day, at Ascot, he tells her he loves her and later, at her London house, proposes. When she finds out that he is poor, she refuses to marry him, preferring the dull, but wealthy Sir George Kelvin. Though he pretends to leave when Sir George comes, he sneaks upstairs and Rosine finds him in her bed. She then confesses to him that she is also impoverished and in need of a good marriage, and will not marry him, even though she loves him as much as he loves her. Max again pretends to leave, then again sneaks back into her room and kisses her passionately until she relents and promises to marry him. The next evening, Max introduces her to Florian, who advises against the moneyless match, but wishes them well. He then plays chemin de fer and loses his chance at a 5,000 pound win and goes 4,500 in debt. He has to write a bad check to cover the debt and in desperation plans to kill himself, but is stopped by Max. To prevent his father from going to jail for check fraud, Max decides to marry Joan, who will settle the debt. At the announcement of the engagement, Rosine is shocked to find out that Max has jilted her for Joan. Later, at a dinner party, Max becomes jealous when Rosine plays up to Paul, a handsome Russian prince. He feels compelled to tell Joan that he loves Rosine, and she decides she can't marry him or take the money back, even though she admires his honesty. Joan then tells her friends that the engagement announcement was a joke and that Rosine and Max really love each other. An embarrassed Rosine then runs off, followed by Max, who insults, then slaps her and reveals why he needed Joan's money. He then runs out of Joan's house, and encounters Florian, who says he has just married the elderly, but wealthy Lady Ridgway, thus solving his financial problems. As Max drives off, Rosine chases after him and they finally admit that they love each other.

Film Details

Also Known As
A Family Affair, Mister and Mistress, The Truth Game
Genre
Comedy
Drama
Adaptation
Release Date
Apr 9, 1932
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Distributing Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play The Truth Game by Ivor Novello (London, 5 Oct 1928).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 17m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8 reels

Articles

But the Flesh is Weak - But The Flesh Is Weak


Based on a play by Welsh writer-actor-producer Ivor Novello, But the Flesh Is Weak (1932) is one of many films from the early part of Robert Montgomery's career in which he plays a charming playboy. Max Clement and his equally charming father, Florian, played by C. Aubrey Smith, are English gents on their uppers, determined to snag rich heiresses. Max succeeds, but his plans are foiled when he falls for a beautiful but poor widow.

Montgomery was one of many stage actors who left Broadway for Hollywood during the early days of sound films. Unlike most of them, whose declamatory style doomed their film careers, Montgomery's breezy, unaffected acting made him a natural for films. Signed to a contract at MGM, he quickly established himself as an appealing leading man. Then he marched into studio head Louis B. Mayer's office, and demanded the raise he'd been promised when he signed his contract. Mayer claimed he'd made no such promise, and Montgomery replied, "If you were a younger man, Mr. Mayer, I'd give you a beating." By the time Montgomery's contract was up for renewal in 1934, he had become so valuable to the studio that he got the hefty raise he'd asked for. Nevertheless, Montgomery continued to chafe at being typecast as a lightweight, and had to fight for roles like his Oscar-nominated one as the psychotic killer in Night Must Fall (1937), which turned out to be one of his best performances.

For C. Aubrey Smith, who plays Montgomery's father - a lovable rogue addicted to gambling and with an eye for the ladies -- But the Flesh Is Weak was a rare break from typecasting. Smith usually played stiff-upper-lip Englishmen, those aristocratic Victorian gentlemen who embody and uphold the values of Queen and country. In fact, that's very much who Smith was in real life. A Cambridge graduate and member of England's national cricket team, Smith didn't begin acting until the age of 30, and appeared in his first film at age 50. But it was not until the advent of talking films, when he was in his late 60s, that Smith's career really took off. In the 1930s, Smith was a stalwart of the British colony in Hollywood, and was the founding captain of the Hollywood Cricket Club. Knighted in 1944, Smith worked right up to his death in 1948, at the age of 85. His final film appearance was as the crusty Mr. Laurence in Little Women (1949).

Author Ivor Novello wrote the screenplay for But the Flesh Is Weak, based on his play, The Truth Game. The multi-talented Novello was a matinee idol in his native Britain, both onstage and in films. One of his most memorable roles was in Alfred Hitchcock's silent version of The Lodger (1927). However, Novello never had much success in American films as a performer, although several of the plays he authored were made into films. He also wrote dialogue for Tarzan, the Ape Man (1932). Novello gave up films in the mid-1930s to devote himself to writing, composing and acting in stage musicals.

According to Variety's review of But the Flesh Is Weak, the leading lady, Austrian actress Nora Gregor, who was brought to Hollywood by producer-director Max Reinhardt, "didn't pan out for MGM." (Mordaunt Hall, in the New York Times, however, found her "captivating.") Gregor returned to Europe soon after. Her most memorable film was Jean Renoir's classic The Rules of the Game (1939). Heather Thatcher, who played the quirky and appealing Lady Joan, was more successful in both American and British films, usually in supporting roles as aristocratic Englishwomen.

But the Flesh Is Weak was remade as Free and Easy (1941), starring Robert Cummings as Max, and one of C. Aubrey Smith's compatriots on the Hollywood Cricket Club, Nigel Bruce, as Florian. Smith himself played a supporting role as the father of Lady Joan, Max's wealthy prey. Playing Lady Joan was Judith Anderson, in a rare sympathetic role. It was one of Anderson's earliest films, and quite a change of pace from the menacing Mrs. Danvers in Rebecca (1940), which had recently earned her an Oscar® nomination.

Director: Jack Conway
Screenplay: Ivor Novello, from his play, "The Truth Game"
Cinematography: Oliver T. Marsh
Editor: Tom Held
Costume Design: Adrian
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons
Cast: Robert Montgomery (Max Clement), Nora Gregor (Rosine), Heather Thatcher (Lady Joan), Edward Everett Horton (Sir George), C. Aubrey Smith (Florian Clement), Nils Asther (Prince Paul).
BW-77m.

by Margarita Landazuri
But The Flesh Is Weak - But The Flesh Is Weak

But the Flesh is Weak - But The Flesh Is Weak

Based on a play by Welsh writer-actor-producer Ivor Novello, But the Flesh Is Weak (1932) is one of many films from the early part of Robert Montgomery's career in which he plays a charming playboy. Max Clement and his equally charming father, Florian, played by C. Aubrey Smith, are English gents on their uppers, determined to snag rich heiresses. Max succeeds, but his plans are foiled when he falls for a beautiful but poor widow. Montgomery was one of many stage actors who left Broadway for Hollywood during the early days of sound films. Unlike most of them, whose declamatory style doomed their film careers, Montgomery's breezy, unaffected acting made him a natural for films. Signed to a contract at MGM, he quickly established himself as an appealing leading man. Then he marched into studio head Louis B. Mayer's office, and demanded the raise he'd been promised when he signed his contract. Mayer claimed he'd made no such promise, and Montgomery replied, "If you were a younger man, Mr. Mayer, I'd give you a beating." By the time Montgomery's contract was up for renewal in 1934, he had become so valuable to the studio that he got the hefty raise he'd asked for. Nevertheless, Montgomery continued to chafe at being typecast as a lightweight, and had to fight for roles like his Oscar-nominated one as the psychotic killer in Night Must Fall (1937), which turned out to be one of his best performances. For C. Aubrey Smith, who plays Montgomery's father - a lovable rogue addicted to gambling and with an eye for the ladies -- But the Flesh Is Weak was a rare break from typecasting. Smith usually played stiff-upper-lip Englishmen, those aristocratic Victorian gentlemen who embody and uphold the values of Queen and country. In fact, that's very much who Smith was in real life. A Cambridge graduate and member of England's national cricket team, Smith didn't begin acting until the age of 30, and appeared in his first film at age 50. But it was not until the advent of talking films, when he was in his late 60s, that Smith's career really took off. In the 1930s, Smith was a stalwart of the British colony in Hollywood, and was the founding captain of the Hollywood Cricket Club. Knighted in 1944, Smith worked right up to his death in 1948, at the age of 85. His final film appearance was as the crusty Mr. Laurence in Little Women (1949). Author Ivor Novello wrote the screenplay for But the Flesh Is Weak, based on his play, The Truth Game. The multi-talented Novello was a matinee idol in his native Britain, both onstage and in films. One of his most memorable roles was in Alfred Hitchcock's silent version of The Lodger (1927). However, Novello never had much success in American films as a performer, although several of the plays he authored were made into films. He also wrote dialogue for Tarzan, the Ape Man (1932). Novello gave up films in the mid-1930s to devote himself to writing, composing and acting in stage musicals. According to Variety's review of But the Flesh Is Weak, the leading lady, Austrian actress Nora Gregor, who was brought to Hollywood by producer-director Max Reinhardt, "didn't pan out for MGM." (Mordaunt Hall, in the New York Times, however, found her "captivating.") Gregor returned to Europe soon after. Her most memorable film was Jean Renoir's classic The Rules of the Game (1939). Heather Thatcher, who played the quirky and appealing Lady Joan, was more successful in both American and British films, usually in supporting roles as aristocratic Englishwomen. But the Flesh Is Weak was remade as Free and Easy (1941), starring Robert Cummings as Max, and one of C. Aubrey Smith's compatriots on the Hollywood Cricket Club, Nigel Bruce, as Florian. Smith himself played a supporting role as the father of Lady Joan, Max's wealthy prey. Playing Lady Joan was Judith Anderson, in a rare sympathetic role. It was one of Anderson's earliest films, and quite a change of pace from the menacing Mrs. Danvers in Rebecca (1940), which had recently earned her an Oscar® nomination. Director: Jack Conway Screenplay: Ivor Novello, from his play, "The Truth Game" Cinematography: Oliver T. Marsh Editor: Tom Held Costume Design: Adrian Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons Cast: Robert Montgomery (Max Clement), Nora Gregor (Rosine), Heather Thatcher (Lady Joan), Edward Everett Horton (Sir George), C. Aubrey Smith (Florian Clement), Nils Asther (Prince Paul). BW-77m. by Margarita Landazuri

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Ivor Novello starred in both the London and New York productions of his play. Working titles of this film were The Truth Game, Mister and Mistress and A Family Affair. Variety notes that Nora Gregor was a protegee of Viennese theatrical impressario Max Reinhardt and was brought to Los Angeles by M-G-M. Gregor's only other known English-language film was The Man in Possession (1931, see below). Modern sources note that her only other American films were German versions of M-G-M pictures produced in Hollywood. Gregor later appeared in the 1939 Jean Renoir directed French film La regle du jeu (The Rules of the Game), playing the female lead, Christine de la Chesnaye, opposite Marcel Dalio. M-G-M made another film based on Novello's play, Free and Easy, directed by George Sidney in 1941, starring Robert Cummings and Ruth Hussey. C. Aubrey Smith and Forrester Harvey also played in that film, although they did not reprise their earlier roles.