For Reel

The Divorce of Lady X (1938)
May 29, 2014, 11:31 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Tim Whelan
3.5 Stars
The Divorce of Lady XThe year before Merle Oberon and Lawrence Olivier starred together in the classic romantic tragedy Wuthering Heights, they were paired for this light-hearted technicolor comedy from producer Alexander Korda. Olivier plays a stuffy lawyer who is coaxed by a strange woman (Oberon) to share his hotel room with her during an unnavigable London fog. When an old friend (Ralph Richardson) comes seeking a divorce the following day because his wife spent the night in another man’s hotel room, Olivier is convinced that he’s the homewrecker. The color cinematography is the star of this otherwise fairly forgettable, if pleasant distraction–the opening sequence features the beautiful neon glow of the Piccadilly Circus before cutting to a costume ball awash in shades of pastel colors. As the first act proceeds, the flamboyance is maintained with the vibrant design of a hotel room where the lovers begin their attraction. Beyond the visual pleasures (chaotic as the palette may be), it is worthwhile to see both Oberon and Olivier perform screwball, which neither of them would do often throughout the rest of their respective careers. Despite their best efforts, it’s the dependable Richardson who steals the show as the increasingly suspicious client.

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