Riptide


1h 30m 1934
Riptide

Brief Synopsis

A chorus girl weds a British lord then falls for an old flame.

Photos & Videos

Film Details

Also Known As
Lady Mary's Lover
Genre
Drama
Release Date
Mar 30, 1934
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 30m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
10 reels

Synopsis

While visiting New York City, Lord Philip Rexford, an English businessman, is invited to a "World of the Future" costume party and is sent a bizarre "Insect Man" outfit to wear. Also invited to the party is Mary, whose pre-ordered costume is as strange and difficult to put on as Philip's. When Philip and Mary meet on the way to the party, they decide to skip the ball and spend the evening together. After a whirlwind romance, Philip proposes to Mary, but she is reluctant to accept because of her less-than-virtuous past. Eventually, however, Philip convinces Mary that her past means nothing to him, and Mary, the wild American socialite, soon becomes Lady Rexford. Five years later, while Mary and Philip are living quietly in England with their young daughter Pamela, Philip announces that he must travel to America on a "men only" business trip. Depressed by Philip's departure, Mary accepts the invitation of his aunt, Hetty Riversleigh, to visit Cannes on a holiday. Although Hetty has been asked by Philip to look after Mary, the feisty matron encourages Mary to enjoy herself in the Riviera casinos. While partying, Mary hears that Tommie Trent, a notorious New York playboy and former admirer, is at the resort and finds him in his hotel room. Tommie, whose fast living and hard drinking have led him to suicidal despair, is rejuvenated by Mary's arrival and eagerly accompanies her to a high society party. After several glasses of champagne, the usually cyncial Tommie is overcome with romantic feelings and kisses Mary in an unguarded moment. Although Mary slips away and returns to her hotel, Tommie follows and tries to climb to her balcony. Drunk, Tommie slips while crossing a neighbor's balcony and falls two storeys. When Mary hears of Tommie's accident, she rushes to his hospital bedside and is caught in an innocent kiss by an American newspaper photographer. Back in England, Philip returns home amid rumors of Mary's "affair" and, while Mary maintains her innocence, finds himself filled with doubt and jealousy. To quell Philip's fears, Mary asks a recuperated Tommie to see her husband and reassure him that nothing serious happened in Cannes. Instead, Tommie's visit causes Philip to become more suspicious of Mary, and he soon begins to avoid her. Eventually Philip finds Mary at a party hosted by her sister and tells her that he wants a divorce. Crushed by Philip's assertion that she would be happier living her old, single life, Mary agrees to the divorce and retreats to a waiting Tommie. While Tommie and Mary pursue a romance in earnest, Philip hires detectives to investigate the Cannes affair. When he learns that Mary's version of the story is true, Philip wires her to come to St. Moritz, and she rushes to join him. Mary forgives Philip, but then learns that Tommie is on his way to St. Moritz to confront Philip. Worried that Philip will reject her if he finds out about her post-separation affair with Tommie, Mary lies about their relationship. Tommie, however, confesses to Philip his love for Mary, and Philip once again begins divorce proceedings. Moments before Mary, who has agreed to give up custody of Pamela, is to sail for America, however, Philip realizes he is still deeply in love with his wife, and they both agree to stay married.

Cast

Norma Shearer

[Lady] Mary [Rexford]

Robert Montgomery

Tommie [Trent]

Herbert Marshall

Lord [Philip] Rexford

Mrs. Patrick Campbell

Aunt Hetty [Riversleigh]

Skeets Gallagher

Erskine

Ralph Forbes

[David] Fenwick

Lilyan Tashman

Sylvia

Arthur Jarrett

Percy

Earl Oxford

Freddie

Helen Jerome Eddy

Celeste

George K. Arthur

Bertie [Davis]

Baby Marilyn Spinner

Pamela [Rexford]

Phillis Coghlan

Nurse

Howard Chaldecott

Ransome

Halliwell Hobbes

Bollard

Cora Sue Collins

Child

Arthur Treacher

Reporter

George Cowl

Reporter

Victor Gammon

Reporter

Donald Stuart

Reporter

Robert A'dair

Bartender

Charles Roqua

Irving

E. E. Clive

Major Mills

Conrad Seidemann

Sleigh driver

Anders Van Haden

German porter

Otto H. Fries

Doorman

Nola Luxford

English girl

Anderson Lawler

Henry

Walter Brennan

Chauffeur

Stanley Mann

Chauffeur

Adrian Rosley

Hotel manager

Desmond Roberts

Hotel manager

Andre Cheron

Surrette officer

Leo White

Assistant manager

Paul Porcasi

House detective

Fred W. Malatesta

Head waiter

Lillian Rich

Girl

Yvonne Parker

French woman

Erin La Bissoniere

French woman

Louis Mercier

Concierge

Barlowe Borland

Butler/Nightingale

Horace Claude Cooper

General

Harry Allen

Fire chief

Constant Franke

Waiter

Ferdinand Gottschalk

Orchestra leader

T. Roy Barnes

Clegg

Emil Chautard

Doctor

Herbert Bunston

Major Bagdall

Clarissa Selwynne

Mrs. Bagdall

Elsa Buchanan

Daphne

Herman Brix

Brix

Francisco Maran

French butler

Montague Shaw

Tring

Ramsey Hill

Sir Geoffrey Mapel

Lawrence Grant

Farrington

Bobbie Bolder

Herbert Evans

Cosmo Kyrle Bellew

Florine Mckinney

Albert Conti

Film Details

Also Known As
Lady Mary's Lover
Genre
Drama
Release Date
Mar 30, 1934
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 30m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
10 reels

Articles

Riptide


"She's got 'conscience' written all over her. At this moment, she is cooling off -- like some beautiful volcano that has decided not to wipe out a lot of Italian villages." -- Robert Montgomery, describing Norma Shearer in Riptide

Norma Shearer returned to the screen after spending a year-and-a-half nursing her ailing husband, MGM production executive Irving G. Thalberg, with the 1934 romance, Riptide. It must have seemed like a tailor-made vehicle, with the star suffering elegantly as a woman whose past comes back to haunt her when the husband (Herbert Marshall), whose child she had borne out of wedlock, doubts her fidelity when an old suitor (Robert Montgomery) turns up. Yet for all the film's MGM glamour, it was a pale imitation of her earlier sin-filled romances, too properly British and too repetitious for most American audiences.

On his return to MGM, Thalberg left his position as production head, taking over his own production unit instead. In his eyes, he was in charge of the studio's prestige pictures, a few films each year with the highest production values and most ambitious scripts. For his wife's return, he set out to showcase her. At first he considered a new screen version of Michael Arlen's steamy novel The Green Hat, which the studio had filmed in 1928 as A Woman of Affairs. That silent classic starred Greta Garbo and John Gilbert as British aristocrats whose romance was thwarted by a series of scandals. He assigned Edmund Goulding (Grand Hotel, 1932), one of the studio's most successful directors of leading ladies, to direct and Charles MacArthur to write the screenplay. But after a few weeks, MacArthur became convinced there was no way to make the '20s-set story work in the midst of the Depression and quit the project. Goulding took over the screenplay and eventually fashioned an entirely new story. Constance Bennett would star in the silent film's disastrous 1934 remake Outcast Lady.

Goulding's original story was similar to The Divorcee, the 1930 romance that established Shearer's mature sex appeal and won her the Oscar®. Unfortunately, the film's production corresponded with the rise of a national furor over sex on screen. With the Legion of Decency gaining in influence and threatening a boycott of all movies, the studios were trying to police themselves more effectively. Goulding had originally titled his screenplay Riptide, but MGM changed it to the more provocative Lady Mary's Lover. Squeamish exhibitors convinced them to change it back. The script itself was mostly sexual sizzle with no payoff. Although Shearer's Lady Mary clearly had sex with her husband before they were married, she remains steadfastly pure from that point on. His jealousy is clearly unfounded -- not only does nothing happen between her and former suitor Montgomery, but she steadfastly fends the dissolute playboy off until Marshall leaves her. As a result, the sanctity of marriage is never seriously challenged, and she clearly suffers mightily for her earlier indiscretion.

As a whole, Riptide was presented with all the glamour MGM had become famous for. The $500,000-plus budget allowed costume designer Adrian to pull out all the stops for an opening scene at an "Insect Ball," with the cast wearing his high-fashion versions of tentacles, claws and antennae. Snow from the Sierra Nevadas had to be imported for the Alpine skiing sequence. Nonetheless, Riptide was not well received in previews. At one point, one of the "veddy" British characters said, "Ah, this air of old England; presently I shall hear a nightingale." One member of the audience responded with a loud Bronx cheer, which was followed through the rest of the screening with more raspberries. Distraught, Thalberg supervised three weeks of retakes trying to whip the film into shape.

As part of his quest for quality, Thalberg cast one of the supporting roles with Mrs. Patrick Campbell (née Beatrice Tanner), a stage legend who created the role of Eliza Doolittle in Pygmalion, shared a long platonic romance with the play's author, George Bernard Shaw, and stole Lady Randolph Churchill's husband. Mrs. Campbell's stage career was fading when talking films came in, and she originally traveled to Hollywood to coach actors in the use of their voices. Her insistence on playing the diva, even then, scared most producers out of working with her, but Thalberg thought her name would lend prestige to MGM's productions. Although she had not had a film role in four years, Campbell was still upset with the size of her role. Goulding tried to reassure her with a telegram: "...you are being put on the screen with all the charm and technique that made you....Relax, trust, don't worry, sleep well, feel well and give me your confidence." But all the encouragement in the world, couldn't reign in her stage-pitched performance, most of which had to be cut, nor curb her notoriously acid tongue. Sources differ on what she said that soured Thalberg on working with her again. Some say that on the set she trumpeted, "Look at that Shearer person. Her eyes are so far apart, you'd have to get a taxi between them." Others contend that at a party, she innocently remarked to Thalberg, "How is your lovely, lovely wife with the tiny, tiny eyes." Always sensitive about Shearer's squint and her slightly crossed eyes, Thalberg stopped casting Campbell after only two more films at MGM. She would make only one more picture, Josef von Sternberg's 1935 Crime and Punishment. By the time she passed away in 1940, she was so broke she had to beg friends for money to live on.

Riptide received mostly lukewarm reviews upon release, but turned a small profit as Shearer's many female fans flocked to see her. Delight Evans of Screenland complained that Shearer's performance was " very much the same silken, slightly decadent, and exquisitely accoutered characterization which has won her so much box-office acclaim in the past," while Cy Caldwell in New Outlook called the plot "a luscious, sloppy gob of whimsical elfishness." The film sent Thalberg and Shearer looking for a change of pace, which resulted in one of her biggest hits, The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934). It also played a role in world history when a fifteen-year-old Argentine girl became entranced with it and made Norma Shearer her role model. The girl would grow up to become Eva Peron, half of one of the world's most glamorous dictatorships.

Producer: Irving Thalberg
Director: Edmund Goulding
Screenplay: Edmund Goulding
Cinematography: Ray June
Art Director: Alexander Toluboff, Fredric Hope
Music: Herbert Stothart
Cast: Norma Shearer (Lady Mary Rexford), Robert Montgomery (Tommy Trent), Herbert Marshall (Lord Philip Rexford), Mrs. Patrick Campbell (Lady Hetty Riversleigh), Skeets Gallagher (Erskine), Ralph Forbes (David Fenwick), Lilyan Tashman (Sylvia), Helen Jerome Eddy (Celeste), George K. Arthur (Bertie Davis), Halliwell Hobbes (Bollard), Cora Sue Collins (Child), Arthur Treacher (Reporter), E.E. Clive (Sleigh Driver), Walter Brennan (Chauffeur), Ferdinand Gottschalk (Orchestra Leader), Bruce Bennett (Bit).
BW-92m.

by Frank Miller
Riptide

Riptide

"She's got 'conscience' written all over her. At this moment, she is cooling off -- like some beautiful volcano that has decided not to wipe out a lot of Italian villages." -- Robert Montgomery, describing Norma Shearer in Riptide Norma Shearer returned to the screen after spending a year-and-a-half nursing her ailing husband, MGM production executive Irving G. Thalberg, with the 1934 romance, Riptide. It must have seemed like a tailor-made vehicle, with the star suffering elegantly as a woman whose past comes back to haunt her when the husband (Herbert Marshall), whose child she had borne out of wedlock, doubts her fidelity when an old suitor (Robert Montgomery) turns up. Yet for all the film's MGM glamour, it was a pale imitation of her earlier sin-filled romances, too properly British and too repetitious for most American audiences. On his return to MGM, Thalberg left his position as production head, taking over his own production unit instead. In his eyes, he was in charge of the studio's prestige pictures, a few films each year with the highest production values and most ambitious scripts. For his wife's return, he set out to showcase her. At first he considered a new screen version of Michael Arlen's steamy novel The Green Hat, which the studio had filmed in 1928 as A Woman of Affairs. That silent classic starred Greta Garbo and John Gilbert as British aristocrats whose romance was thwarted by a series of scandals. He assigned Edmund Goulding (Grand Hotel, 1932), one of the studio's most successful directors of leading ladies, to direct and Charles MacArthur to write the screenplay. But after a few weeks, MacArthur became convinced there was no way to make the '20s-set story work in the midst of the Depression and quit the project. Goulding took over the screenplay and eventually fashioned an entirely new story. Constance Bennett would star in the silent film's disastrous 1934 remake Outcast Lady. Goulding's original story was similar to The Divorcee, the 1930 romance that established Shearer's mature sex appeal and won her the Oscar®. Unfortunately, the film's production corresponded with the rise of a national furor over sex on screen. With the Legion of Decency gaining in influence and threatening a boycott of all movies, the studios were trying to police themselves more effectively. Goulding had originally titled his screenplay Riptide, but MGM changed it to the more provocative Lady Mary's Lover. Squeamish exhibitors convinced them to change it back. The script itself was mostly sexual sizzle with no payoff. Although Shearer's Lady Mary clearly had sex with her husband before they were married, she remains steadfastly pure from that point on. His jealousy is clearly unfounded -- not only does nothing happen between her and former suitor Montgomery, but she steadfastly fends the dissolute playboy off until Marshall leaves her. As a result, the sanctity of marriage is never seriously challenged, and she clearly suffers mightily for her earlier indiscretion. As a whole, Riptide was presented with all the glamour MGM had become famous for. The $500,000-plus budget allowed costume designer Adrian to pull out all the stops for an opening scene at an "Insect Ball," with the cast wearing his high-fashion versions of tentacles, claws and antennae. Snow from the Sierra Nevadas had to be imported for the Alpine skiing sequence. Nonetheless, Riptide was not well received in previews. At one point, one of the "veddy" British characters said, "Ah, this air of old England; presently I shall hear a nightingale." One member of the audience responded with a loud Bronx cheer, which was followed through the rest of the screening with more raspberries. Distraught, Thalberg supervised three weeks of retakes trying to whip the film into shape. As part of his quest for quality, Thalberg cast one of the supporting roles with Mrs. Patrick Campbell (née Beatrice Tanner), a stage legend who created the role of Eliza Doolittle in Pygmalion, shared a long platonic romance with the play's author, George Bernard Shaw, and stole Lady Randolph Churchill's husband. Mrs. Campbell's stage career was fading when talking films came in, and she originally traveled to Hollywood to coach actors in the use of their voices. Her insistence on playing the diva, even then, scared most producers out of working with her, but Thalberg thought her name would lend prestige to MGM's productions. Although she had not had a film role in four years, Campbell was still upset with the size of her role. Goulding tried to reassure her with a telegram: "...you are being put on the screen with all the charm and technique that made you....Relax, trust, don't worry, sleep well, feel well and give me your confidence." But all the encouragement in the world, couldn't reign in her stage-pitched performance, most of which had to be cut, nor curb her notoriously acid tongue. Sources differ on what she said that soured Thalberg on working with her again. Some say that on the set she trumpeted, "Look at that Shearer person. Her eyes are so far apart, you'd have to get a taxi between them." Others contend that at a party, she innocently remarked to Thalberg, "How is your lovely, lovely wife with the tiny, tiny eyes." Always sensitive about Shearer's squint and her slightly crossed eyes, Thalberg stopped casting Campbell after only two more films at MGM. She would make only one more picture, Josef von Sternberg's 1935 Crime and Punishment. By the time she passed away in 1940, she was so broke she had to beg friends for money to live on. Riptide received mostly lukewarm reviews upon release, but turned a small profit as Shearer's many female fans flocked to see her. Delight Evans of Screenland complained that Shearer's performance was " very much the same silken, slightly decadent, and exquisitely accoutered characterization which has won her so much box-office acclaim in the past," while Cy Caldwell in New Outlook called the plot "a luscious, sloppy gob of whimsical elfishness." The film sent Thalberg and Shearer looking for a change of pace, which resulted in one of her biggest hits, The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934). It also played a role in world history when a fifteen-year-old Argentine girl became entranced with it and made Norma Shearer her role model. The girl would grow up to become Eva Peron, half of one of the world's most glamorous dictatorships. Producer: Irving Thalberg Director: Edmund Goulding Screenplay: Edmund Goulding Cinematography: Ray June Art Director: Alexander Toluboff, Fredric Hope Music: Herbert Stothart Cast: Norma Shearer (Lady Mary Rexford), Robert Montgomery (Tommy Trent), Herbert Marshall (Lord Philip Rexford), Mrs. Patrick Campbell (Lady Hetty Riversleigh), Skeets Gallagher (Erskine), Ralph Forbes (David Fenwick), Lilyan Tashman (Sylvia), Helen Jerome Eddy (Celeste), George K. Arthur (Bertie Davis), Halliwell Hobbes (Bollard), Cora Sue Collins (Child), Arthur Treacher (Reporter), E.E. Clive (Sleigh Driver), Walter Brennan (Chauffeur), Ferdinand Gottschalk (Orchestra Leader), Bruce Bennett (Bit). BW-92m. by Frank Miller

Quotes

Trivia

Robert Z. Leonard replaced Edmund Goulding as director for the last two-and-a-half weeks of filming.

Snow was trucked in from the Sierra Mountains for use in the Alpine scene.

Notes

The working title of this film was Lady Mary's Lover. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, exhibitors pressed M-G-M to change the title from Lady Mary's Lover back to Riptide, its original working title, in late February 1934. A late November 1933 Film Daily news item announced that Zoë Akins had completed a screen treatment of the story, and early Hollywood Reporter production charts credit Charles MacArthur, not Edmund Goulding, with writing the film's story. The exact nature of these writers' contributions, if any, is not known. For the last two-and-a-half weeks of production, Robert Z. Leonard replaced Goulding as director, according to a late January 1934 Hollywood Reporter news item. After mid-March 1934 previews in Long Beach, CA, retakes were ordered by the studio. Hollywood Reporter production charts add Donald Grieg, Samuel May and Peter Hobbes as cast members, but their participation in the final film has not been confirmed. The Call Bureau Cast Service lists Edward Nugent in the role of "Erskine," but that part was played by Skeets Gallagher. According to a production news item in Motion Picture Herald, the film was budgeted at over $500,000. As noted by many reviewers, Riptide was Norma Shearer's first production after an eighteenth-month hiatus from the screen that was precipitated by her husband Irving G. Thalberg's illness. Modern sources note that snow was brought in from the Sierra Mountains for use in the Alpine scenes.