For Reel


Dr. Monica (1934)
February 6, 2016, 1:32 pm
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: William Keighley
2.5 Stars
Dr. MonicaThe plot of Dr. Monica would be just as appropriate on the Lifetime network now as it was on Hollywood screens in 1934. It concerns an obstetrician (Kay Francis) who, in the climax, must deliver her best friend’s (Jean Muir) baby shortly after having been made aware that the child is actually her own husband’s (Warren William). David Sterritt, in his article on the film at TCM.com, discusses how Dr. Monica participates in the “woman’s film” genre, remarking on the very specific audience it meant to attract. Typical of the genre, the picture involves a level of fashion and glamour that positions her as a highly dignified professional and distinguishes Francis as one of the era’s most chic stars. Just as common in this genre is that it is a film about a woman’s suffering, where the best way of being “ladylike” is to quietly cope with one’s problems. While Muir’s character undergoes a series of mood-swings–prompted both by the heartbreak of her ill-advised affair and the incredible guilt she feels for sleeping with her friend’s husband–Francis remains largely resolute and saint-like after she discovers what her husband has been up to. Francis and Muir are both solid, but Verree Teasdale steals the show as a sophisticate who gives Francis sage advice in the third act. William, sans-mustache, is dialed down from his usual cad roles, playing more for sympathy than reveling in the expected smarm. The picture’s one memorable scene involves a farewell on a dock, where William can’t muster a reaction to his obediently waving wife, but instead gestures meaningfully to his mistress.

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