Cast & Crew
In St. Petersburg, Florida, wealthy clubman Kent Johns relates to his friend, Vivian Matthews, that he expects to leave for Paris the following week to marry "Dovie" Jansen. Upset because she had hoped Kent would propose to her, Vi returns home to care for her rheumatoid aunt. Vi greets her next-door neighbor, Pat Sullivan, an aspiring stage actress who has just returned home, and informs her of Kent's marital plans. When Dovie later calls off the marriage so she can wed a European count, Kent invites Vi out on a date. He proposes they marry, but does so only so that he may collect a sizable inheritance according to the conditions of his late grandfather's will. Egged on by Pat, who is unaware of the true reason for the marriage, Vi accepts Kent's offer, which stipulates that the bride will receive $100,000 in a divorce settlement after the couple has been married one year. During their honeymoon at the St. Francis Hotel in New York City, Kent introduces Vi to Philip Marlowe, an artist and childhood friend who lives near them in Florida. With the help of Celeste, her personal maid, Vi is transformed from a homely matron to a beautiful woman, and as Kent is often away on business, Philip finds himself attracted to his neglected wife. Philip persuades Vi to pose for him in his Florida studio as "Venus of the Air," and they spend much time together, especially after the artist begins giving Vi flying lessons. During the next few months, Kent appears to become jealous of his wife's admirer. When Kent is about to depart on a northbound train for New York on business, he cancels his plans when he notices the unexpected arrival of Dovie, who is now divorced, and her aristocratic mother Aurelia. Kent relates the conditions of his marriage to Dovie, and she tells Pat that Vi is a "hired wife" whose contractual obligation will be paid off in eight months. After Philip learns of the matter, he confesses his love for Vi, but she tells him that she can only return his friendship, not his love, and insists they not see each other again. At the club, Kent and Dovie enjoy themselves when Vi, Pat and a male friend take a nearby table. When Philip arrives and joins the threesome, Kent is convinced his wife is involved with his friend. In an effort to reclaim her husband from the vampish Dovie, Vi agrees to dance with Philip and taunts her husband. Back home, insinuations about their respective infidelities are traded by Vi and Kent, although she hopes their arrangement can end on a peaceful note. The following afternoon, Kent believes he sees his wife in the arms of Philip, but the woman is revealed to be Dovie, who halfheartedly proclaims Philip's innocence. After learning that Vi has decided to take her first solo flight, Kent realizes his love for her and rushes to the airfield, fearful that she will crash the plane. Meanwhile, Philip admits to Dovie that he framed her to help Vi, and Kent and Vi finally recognize their love for each other. At the airfield, Vi averts a crash and lands safely, then embraces her husband.
Although Motion Picture Herald credits novelist Alma Sioux Scarberry as screenwriter on this film, no other source, including the viewed print, lists her or any other writer in that capacity. Photographer Mack Stengler's first name is misspelled "Mark" in the opening credits. A production news item in Film Daily adds Jack Chapin to the cast, but his participation in the final film has not been confirmed. In March 1934, this film was listed as a state rights release in the Motion Picture Herald release charts. By April 1934, however, after two other Pinnacle titles, Chloe and Playthings of Desire, were distributed, Hired Wife was listed only as a Pinnacle release. Although Chloe and Playthings of Desire were filmed before Hired Wife, Hired Wife received the first general release date. According to modern sources, shooting on Hired Wife began shortly before Sun Haven Studios, a St. Petersburg, FL facility started by Aubrey M. Kennedy and bought out by investor T. C. Parker, Jr., merged with Beecroft-Florida Studios in Tampa. Although onscreen credits list T. C. Parker as sound man, T. C. Parker III is credited on other Pinnacle productions in this capacity.