A Broadway singer (Barbara Stanwyck) finds her chances for a respectable marriage destroyed by her previous romantic connection with a hood (Lyle Talbot) who still wants her. Determined to put the mobster out of her life, she moves to Montreal and sings under an assumed name. But when the ex-boyfriend tracks her down, what's a girl to do but run off to be a mail order bride to a struggling North Dakota farmer (George Brent)?
The movie is somewhat episodic and the humor is a bit broad in places -- George Brent's "cold" was annoying, and the characters in the wedding and shivaree scenes are unappealing country bumpkins -- but all in all, I liked this movie. It had a feel similar to turning the pages of a good romantic novel, and I was interested to find out what would happen next as the farmer and the singer got to know one another.
I have been gradually coming to appreciate Barbara Stanwyck -- readers may recall I didn't care for Stanwyck from BIG VALLEY on -- and her performance in this film is very enjoyable. Stanwyck fans will definitely want to see it.
Brent, in another film from his "pre-mustache" period, plays a shy, gangly man completely at odds with the debonair characters from later in his career, including MY REPUTATION, in which he and Stanwyck costarred over a decade after making THE PURCHASE PRICE. I'm finding Brent's early performances rather unexpected and interesting.
The movie has great period detail; the North Dakota farm feels very real, inside and out.
The film was directed by William A. Wellman. It runs 68-70 minutes.
THE PURCHASE PRICE is available on video. It can also be seen on TCM. Click here to request it be added to TCM's schedule.
The trailer is here.
For a similar storyline filmed more recently, I highly recommend Hallmark Hall of Fame's THE MAGIC OF ORDINARY DAYS, starring Keri Russell and Skeet Ulrich.
January 2009 Update: THE PURCHASE PRICE will be released on DVD on March 24, 2009, as part of the Forbidden Hollywood Vol. 3 set, which spotlights the work of director William Wellman.