For Reel

Party Husband (1931)
June 28, 2015, 4:39 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Clarence G. Badger
3 Stars
Party HusbandParty Husband begins at a wedding ceremony in which the bride (Dorothy Mackaill) and the groom (James Rennie) make an announcement that they intend to have a modern relationship. That is, one in which they maintain their independence, putting aside the old-fashioned sentiments like jealousy and ownership. The woman even intends to take a job, much to the chagrin of nearly everyone in her life who stipulates that a wife should not only be a homemaker, but carry the emotional burden of preserving the romance of a relationship. As with many likeminded movies in the pre-Code era, the narrative does culminate with the type of conservatism that seems to contradict the picture’s ideas of modernity. Along the way, however, there are shades of The Divorcee, with a man stubbornly holding onto suspicions of his wife’s purity even if his behavior is just as questionable. Mackaill was one of the great embodiments of the young, modern woman in this era, and she seems just at ease with the material as Rennie seems miscast. The most memorable exchange occurs when Mackaill’s mother (Helen Ware) visits the married couple’s old apartment. After observing the stubbornness of the lovers, Ware begins a tirade about how the new generation of ne’er-do-wells lacks the conviction of the previous generation, and that their bickering shows a puerility that they need to leave behind.

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