Other Men’s Women (Wellman, 1931)
The dvd for this film is found in a Forbidden Hollywood boxset, and rightfully so. For the time, this was pretty risqué subject material. A couple of railroad workers come home on leave – one who is married, one who never has a shortage of girls available to him. The end up both staying at the married man’s house, and after a few months, the bachelor and the wife fall in love.
The film obviously addresses a controversial (though realistic) temptation, but it’s honestly more focused on the themes of friendship, forgiveness, and sacrifice. The story is great, and though there are a couple of cheap shots of calendars indicating time passing, I was glad to see the relationships in this film built over months instead of days like in so many other classics. Where this film fails a bit is in its dialogue. It would feel a lot more painstakingly real if the characters didn’t talk like they were in a Leave it to Beaver episode. Most of the performances were also iffy, outside of Mary Astor as the wife, who is able to overcome the bad dialogue to give a great performance. This is almost great, but too flawed unfortunately.
4/11 Update: This is not almost great. This is great. I’m much more forgiving of questionable performances from this time period than I was before, and the movie itself is too real, too haunting, and too sad not to like. 9/10