Cast & Crew
Edward H. Griffith
Susie Schmidt, a naïve chorus girl, and her friend, Martha Karenye, who survives by doing odd jobs, rent a large apartment in a fashionable neighborhood in Budapest with Yoli Haydn, a sophisticated model. As they move in, Martha suggests that, according to a gypsy custom, they each count the corners of their room and make a wish. Susie wishes to own a hat shop and be independent of men, while Yoli wishes for a rich husband, and Martha, for a good home, someone to love and children. When Martha tells Dr. Rudi Imri, a poor novice doctor for whom she works, that she has moved across the river, Rudi, upset that she will not be able to come there as often as before, but unable to express his affection for her, fires her. Meanwhile, Yoli's lover, John Bartlett, visits the apartment with Count Karl Lange, who, after meeting Susie, invites her to join them at a party given by playboy Ben Hovath. Susie, infatuated with Karl, is very pleased. At the party, John finds Yoli alone with Horvath and starts to leave. Yoli, who has resolved to remain unaffected regarding John's plans to return to South America on business, leaves with him. Before her performance, Susie confides to Martha that she told Karl she loved him, but then ran away from him. After Susie's chorus number, Martha is called up on stage by Paul Sándor, an egotistical magician. Because she is fascinated by him and also needs a job, she convinces Sándor to hire her as a dresser, cook and all-around servant. Karl is waiting for Susie after the show, and he drives her home. Meanwhile, John and Yoli agree never to talk of love, but to be satisfied at being happy. In the midst of their discussion, they find Marie Armand, John's seventeen-year-old cousin by marriage, waiting in his apartment. She has run away after breaking off an engagement and seems infatuated with John. In the next few weeks, Martha tries to put some order in Sándor's life and berates him for drinking. To arouse her sympathy, Sándor complains of an affliction he calls "polydigitalitis," which he says affects his nerves and may lead to his inability to perform with his hands. When Martha visits Rudi, he is delighted, but when she tells him of her new job, he accuses her of being in love with Sándor. Meanwhile, Susie, arriving early at Karl's apartment, finds a letter from his fiancée, a countess in Paris whose mother has finally agreed to their marriage. At a club, Susie sees Karl enter with his fiancée, and after Susie effects a graceful exit, Karl calls her a sensible girl and expresses the wish to say goodbye pleasantly. When John reveals to Yoli that he plans to leave the next day on the six o'clock train, he confesses that he earlier returned to Budapest to find a wife who would live with him in the mining camps in the Andes. Yoli is about to open her heart to him, when again they find Marie in his apartment. Yoli leaves upset, and when Marie says that she wants to go with him to South America, they plan to get married and leave together the next day. When Sándor tries to get Martha to tell him she loves him, she admits that she felt happy watching over him when he was sick. He then kisses her passionately, but when he egotistically remarks that he worried, because of her earlier hesitancy, that he might have been losing his grip, she runs away. After Susie sees Karl and his fiancée enter the church to get married, she returns to the apartment where she gets drunk on champagne. Upset at Susie's depiction of her as not having a heart, Yoli leaves, saying that she may go to South America. Susie then puts poison into her own champagne glass, but Martha drinks it by mistake and passes out. At the train station, Yoli confesses to John that she loves him with all her heart, but that she would not say so before because of her pride. However, she sees Marie in the window of the train, and John reveals their marriage plans. Yoli says she is still glad she told him how she felt, then walks away with Horvath. Rudi saves Martha's life and reveals that he has been appointed to the staff of the institute. With Martha's encouragement, he proposes. Later, as Yoli, who has accepted Horvath's proposal, packs, the three ladies review their earlier wishes: Susie now has her hat shop, thanks to Yoli, who now has a rich husband, and Martha has a good home and someone to look after.
Edward H. Griffith
Tyrone Power Jr.
J. Edward Bromberg
B. G. Desylva
E. Clayton Ward
Darryl F. Zanuck
Ladies in Love
Directed by Edward H. Griffith, from a screenplay by Melville Baker, Ladies in Love was based on the play by Ladislaus Bus-Fekete, later published as the novel Three Girls in 1937. The film was intended for Gaynor, as Motion Picture Daily revealed when they featured an ad in the spring of 1936 announcing that the film would go into production starring "Janet Gaynor and Two Other Stars in Ladies in Love . Two feminine stars of comparable rank will be signed for this important picture." Gaynor had been a star of the first rank for The Fox Film Corporation since the 1920s, when she had won an Academy Award for three films she made for William Fox in 1929, Sunrise, Street Angel, and Seventh Heaven . In 1935, she signed a new contract with the studio that gave her more creative control and the obligation for only two pictures a year at $115,000 each. Only a few months later, The Fox Film Corporation merged with Twentieth Century Pictures, and suddenly Gaynor wasn't the most important leading lady at the studio. In addition, her contract, which called for her to be the main star of her films, was ignored in favor of a new policy enacted after a poll of Fox exhibitors showed that audiences wanted films with more than one star. That policy would lead to Gaynor being costarred with Bennett and Young in Ladies in Love .
Set in Budapest, Ladies in Love is a convoluted tale of three girls, Susie Schmidt, a chatterbox chorus girl (Young) who wants to be independent, Yoli Haydn (Bennett), a model who is after a rich man, and Martha Kerenye, baroness reduced to poverty after World War I, who just wants a good home and a family (Gaynor). Unlike the other two, Martha works odd jobs, including selling ties and feeding rabbits owned by Dr. Rudi Imre (Ameche), but when he can't pay her, she goes to work as housekeeper/valet for a magician, Paul Sandor (Mowbray). Yoli falls for John Barta (Lukas), who is in Budapest temporarily before returning to South America, and whose "cousin by marriage" - the apparently teenaged Marie Armand (Simon, new to America and to English) shows up at his apartment unannounced. The oddest tale is of Susie, who has a two week romance with Karl Lanyi (the barely seen Tyrone Power), and decides to commit suicide when she discovers he's about to be married to the Countess Helena (Virginia Field).
The storyline is frankly confusing; leading the viewer to think it had been put together quickly and edited haphazardly. For example, Susie goes from meeting Karl to revealing that she has already told him she loved him. We don't see this scene and we don't know how much time has passed since they met. This time warp continues throughout the film, which we learn in the end has occurred in the space of only four weeks. There are twists and turns, and two of the three women don't end up with the men the audience expects, which goes against the norm of Hollywood narratives.
Frank S. Nugent, in his review for The New York Times wrote that the story was sectioned into plots starring each actress, which might have been titled, "I Loved and Lost a Count," by Miss Young; "So I Married the Doctor," by Miss Gaynor; "I Learned Too Late That You Can't Play at Love," by Miss Bennett, and "Never Take No For an Answer," by Miss Simon. [...] Paul Lukas, Tyrone Power Jr. and Don Ameche play the passive lovers with complete resignation, gratefully accepting the few dramatic crumbs the ladies brushed from their make-up tables [...] The only non-subordinate male in the cast is Alan Mowbray as Sandor the magician, who employs Miss Gaynor as his valet and makes love to her in a purely self-reassuring way. "You do love me? Good! I was afraid I was slipping," Sandor remarks complacently. Mr. Mowbray has been a great help in rescuing the picture from its romantics."
The exhibitors weren't pleased with the film, saying that the actresses were fine, but the story tried to cover too much and was confusing. From complaints in the Motion Picture Herald , it seems the box office receipts weren't what they expected. Robert K. Yancey, the owner of the Paradise Theater in Cotter, Arkansas, wrote, "If anyone cared for this I have never found them."
For Janet Gaynor, Ladies in Love was the last straw. She put out a press release stating that her "contract with Twentieth Century-Fox ended with the release of Ladies in Love . I was asked to make a new term contract with the company, but several days ago, [...] I notified Mr. [Darryl] Zanuck I would not make a new contract." Gaynor would star in two more films after Ladies in Love for David O. Selznick, A Star is Born (1937), which earned her an Academy Award nomination, and The Young in Heart (1938). Shortly after, she married MGM costume designer Adrian, had a son named Robin, and retired from the screen until 1957, when she returned to 20th Century-Fox to play Pat Boone's mother in Bernardine .
By Lorraine LoBianco
Carman, Emily Independent Stardom: Freelance Women in the Hollywood Studio System
Yancey, Robert K. "Letter to the Editor" Motion Picture Daily April 1936
Motion Picture Herald Jul-Aug 1937 Nugent, Frank S. "A Bid for the Feminine Trade Is 'Ladies in Love,' at the Rivoli" The New York Times 29 Oct 36
Ladies in Love
End credits were missing in the print viewed. The working title of this film was Three Girls. While the screen credits state that the film was "based on the play by Ladislaus Bus-Fekete" and Hollywood Reporter production charts state that the film was based on Bus-Fekete's play Three Girls, a December 1935 Hollywood Reporter news item states that the studio just purchased Ladies in Love, "a novel by Stanislaus [sic] Bus Fekete that is going to be published in England next year." The novel was published in New York in 1937 in a translation from the Hungarian by Victor Katona and Guy Bolton. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, writer Melville Baker received a three-year contract from the studio as the result of his work on this film. Brian Donlevy is listed as a cast member in early Hollywood Reporter production charts. Most likely, he was cast in the role of "Sándor," as midway through the production, Alan Mowbray's listing replaced Donlevy's. This was Constance Bennett's first American film since After Office Hours which was released early in 1935. Earlier in 1936, she appeared in the British film Everything Is Thunder. Some contemporary sources commented on the rivalry that existed between the leading actresses on the set of this film. A New York Times news item stated, "Fox is having its share of woe with Ladies in Love, in which Constance Bennett, Loretta Young, Janet Gaynor and Simone Simon are appearing. Each of the young ladies is known for being temperamental and diplomacy has been called into use more than once." Variety commented, "the story will appeal almost exclusively to the women." Modern sources list the following additional cast credits: Lynn Bari (Clerk), Paul Weigel (Waiter), Tony Merlo (Assistant stage manager), Paul McVey (Actor), Maxine Elliott Hicks (Girl in audience), Edward Peil, Jr. (Boy in audience), Hector Sarno (Turkish waiter), Helen Dickson and Monty Woolley (Man in box seat), in what May have been his first screen role.