For Reel

The Divorcee (1930)
May 16, 2011, 6:27 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Robert Z. Leonard

The roles offered to women weren’t quite what they used to be after the Production Code had become strictly enforced in the summer of 1934. This Pre-Code drama, which earned Norma Shearer her only Oscar, depicts the sexes as evenly-matched and suggests a double standard within the culture. When a man has an affair, his wife is meant to sacrifice her dignity by forgiving and forgetting. When a woman has an affair, her husband is just in holding a grudge having had his pride compromised. Although the final act offsets this progressive take on womanhood, Shearer excels in her self-destructive, sexually-liberated phase, dispatching her earnest beauty to instead reemerge as a primal seductress.

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