For Reel

By Your Leave (1934)
December 3, 2013, 3:54 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: Lloyd Corrigan
3 Stars
By Your LeaveBy Your Leave was released months after Hollywood’s Production Code began to be rigorously enforced, however in its casual dealings with the topic of adultery it still maintains a certain edge that captures the pre-Code spirit. Frank Morgan plays Henry Smith, a businessman undergoing a mid-life crisis who is able to convince his wife, Ellen (Genevieve Tobin), to take a vacation away from each other. Although Ellen is initially hesitant, she eventually embraces the break and finds love with a much younger explorer, David (Neil Hamilton), while Henry fails to find the excitement that he was searching for. Morgan is well-cast as the bothered man undergoing a failed attempt to reclaim his virility. It is implausible that his ever-stammering, loving husband would have the confidence to take on an extra-marital affair, and therefore his lack of success is fitting. Marian Nixon is the film’s biggest standout, playing the psycho-analytically inclined hostess that Smith acquires the services of for an evening. It is also amusing to see Margaret Hamilton as the Smith’s maid, frequently bickering with Morgan only five years before they would star together in The Wizard of Oz. Despite the likable performances, however, the film is ultimately forgettable, having little wit or much of value to say about marriage.