Monday, July 13, 2009

Tonight's Movie: The Bride Walks Out (1936)

THE BRIDE WALKS OUT is a mildly amusing but fairly dated romantic comedy starring Barbara Stanwyck, Gene Raymond, and Robert Young.

Model Carolyn (Stanwyck) weds struggling young engineer Michael (Raymond), who insists she give up her job to be a homemaker. Carolyn can't resist continuing to buy the things she wants but can no longer afford, leading to her hiding delinquent bills from Michael. When Michael finds out Carolyn has secretly been working in order to catch up their bills, he throws a fit, driving Carolyn into the waiting arms of a department store executive (Young).

Part of the film's problem is that Michael and Carolyn aren't particularly admirable. Carolyn lies to her husband time and again, and Michael is unrealistic and unreasonable; Michael also sets up one of the most unromantic weddings in movie history. Carolyn comes off somewhat the worse of the two, as she understood Michael's point of view when she agreed to marry him, but then made no serious attempt to adapt to his wishes.

I'm generally not very concerned about political incorrectness in old movies -- for good or ill, such things shine an interesting light on the past -- but this film had more "Wow, I can't believe they said that" moments than most, including complacent references to the appropriateness of wife beating and uncomfortably dated racial attitudes.

The film's most sympathetic character, once he sobers up, is played by Robert Young, who time and again does nice things for Stanwyck's Carolyn with little or no hope of her ever returning his affection.

The supporting cast includes Helen Broderick as Carolyn's best friend and Ned Sparks as her husband, who works with Michael. Broderick and her wisecracks are always welcome when I watch a movie. Sparks' deadpan, cigar-chomping demeanor was a bit tiresome but he grew on me as the movie went along.

Hattie McDaniel plays Carolyn's maid, Mamie. Robert Warwick, Charles Lane, Willie Best, and Billy Gilbert are also in the cast.

Viewers should pay close attention to a scene early in the film when Michael stops traffic in an intersection. A taxi pulls up and the driver watches Michael intently, but never speaks; the driver is Ward Bond in one of his early bit roles.

THE BRIDE WALKS OUT is one of five films Gene Raymond made for release by RKO in 1936. Two of the five films costarred Ann Sothern: SMARTEST GIRL IN TOWN and the especially good WALKING ON AIR. The other films he made that year were LOVE ON A BET with Wendy Barrie and THAT GIRL FROM PARIS with Lily Pons. Incidentally, three of Raymond's five 1936 films costarred Helen Broderick, who appeared in two other films that year herself, including a little Astaire-Rogers movie called SWING TIME.

THE BRIDE WALKS OUT was directed by Leigh Jason. It was shot in black and white and runs 81 minutes.

This film has been released on VHS. It has not had a DVD release, but can be seen on Turner Classic Movies.

THE BRIDE WALKS OUT is interesting as a social curio and a bit of diverting light entertainment, but does not represent one of the stronger efforts of its cast members.

April 2012 Update: THE BRIDE WALKS OUT has just been released on DVD-R by the Warner Archive.


Blogger Classic Maiden said...

Very much agree with your assessments about this film... I really like what Robert Young brought to his often drunken part!

1:49 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Evangeline, I was interested to hear the movie struck you the same way.

I've really come to appreciate Robert Young a lot more in the last year or so...Fred MacMurray too. They were both so much more than the only the "TV Dads" I've associated with them for so long.

Best wishes,

5:23 PM  

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