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Ex-Lady (VHS, 1992)
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Movie synopsis
This romantic comedy is filled with stunningly frank sexual suggestion and trenchant observations about the impossibility of a "fun" marriage. A young, fetching Bette Davis stars as Helen, a fashion illustrator who prefers not to marry her boyfriend Don (Gene Raymond) even though she sleeps with him, much to the outrage of her stern father (Alphonse Ethier). She's afraid marriage will only spoil a good thing, and she's proven right when she finally agrees to marry him and the time spent on their Cuban honeymoon causes his business to hit the skids. Soon Don starts flirting with the bored wife (Claire Dodd) of a boiler manufacturer, while Helen goes out with a heavy lidded playboy (Monroe Owsley) who tries to take advantage of her. There are no easy answers in this refreshing film.Frank McHugh provides excellent comic support as Don's rich, drunken friend, Hugo, with Claire Dodd as his flapper wife. EX-LADY is a keen blend of brilliant dialogue, smooth performances, sensual photography, and succinct, bold direction by Robert Florey.

Product Details
  • Number of Tapes: 1
  • Rating: Not Rated
  • UPC: 027616261533

Additional Details
Genre:Dramas
Format:VHS

Director:Robert Florey
Leading Role:Bette Davis
eBay Product ID: EPID3183957
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Reviews & Research

Customer Reviews

Average review score based on 2 user reviews

Rating distributions

Created: 04/06/08

The Impact of Bette Davis Portraying Empowered Women

Alert: Not on DVD, so don't buy one!

100 years after her birth, in 2008, to the credit of the greatest actor of the 20th century, it's impossible to separate the personal empowerment of Bette Davis' viewers from societies becoming more gender & sexually egalitarian.

"Ex-Lady" is the VHS version of an unperformed (1931) play "Illicit." By 1933, blatant sexuality in "Ex-Lady" was close to being considered censorable. Warner Bros'. film explores the topic of open marriage way before it was popular. Brazen director, French Robert Florey accentuates the acute blend of delicious dialogue, succinct script, on-point performances & sensual cinematography.

Helen Bauer (25yo Bette Davis) is a sexy, fashion illustrator. Don Peterson (Gene Raymond at 22yo) is an advertising executive who's proposed marriage to Helen; but, she initially refuses because she doesn't want to give up her independence. Much to the chagrin of Helen's moralistic father, Adolphe Bauer (Alphonso Ethier), the unwed couple's obviously having a sexual relationship. Had this film been released later, these sexual aspects of an unwed relationship would've been censorable due to the Hayes Code.

What's more, after Miss Bauer eventually becomes Mrs. Peterson, Helen's reluctance to marry comes across like the woman has intuition, when her husband begins a sexual flirtation with the bored, flapper wife, Iris Van Hugh (Claire Dodd), of his alcoholic business rival, Hugo Van Hugh (Frank McHugh). When Helen tries to platonically date a handsome rouge, Nick Malvyn (Monroe Owsley), he unsuccessfully attempts to make an adulteress of her!

Several examples of delightful dialogue make my points plain:

Don (Raymond): "I'm just about fed up with sneaking in...let's get married so I'll have the right to be with you."
Helen (Davis): "What do you mean 'right'? I don't like the word 'right'."
Don: "Let's not quibble about words."
Helen: "No, I'm not quibbling, 'right' means something. No one has any
'rights' about me, except me."

Helen soft & sincerely conveys what Bette Davis believed: women are men's equals. Part of the reason such films appeal(ed) to Davis' audiences so much is because she portrays empowered women. Helen 'says without saying' that she has the 'right' not to get married & enjoy her sexuality, too (in 1933!).

When Helen (Davis) says: "I don't want babies," Davis commented later in her life (1971), there'd be fewer divorces if couples didn't marry simply to have sex & babies. If her point, that couples who get married ought to do so because they are very strongly committed to one another, hasn't been socially adopted in the US, yet & couples still wed for moralistic reasons, Davis' Helen conveys a higher moral reason for marriage: a feminist one that holds some heavy weight today, since equality between women & men is all the more prevalent, as this early 20th century dialogue reveals:

Don (Raymond): "You're a successful woman; I ought not to like it."
Helen (Davis): "You're a pretty successful man; I ought not to like it."
Don & Helen simultaneously: "I'm a man!"

As usual, Bette Davis' unique set of physical & verbal expressions convey a woman's power; this time without disempowering her man. This remains her appeal to women: as a woman's role model who is eventually actualized. In this sense, Bette Davis' characters, as role models of empowered women, have far reaching effects upon changing the social status of women to be equal to men~

90 of 90 people found this review helpful. Was this review helpful? Yes | No

Created: 04/06/08

Censorable Classic Starring Bette Davis & Gene Raymond

Review For: Ex-Lady (VHS, 1992)

"Ex-Lady" is the film version of the (1931) unperformed play "Illicit." By 1933, the blatant sexuality of "Ex-Lady" was close to being considered censorable. This Warner Bros. production explores the subject of open marriage well ahead of its time. The bold direction of Robert Florey accentuates the acute blend of delicious dialogue, on-point performances, succinct script & sensual cinematography.

As usual, Bette Davis' unique set of physical & verbal expressions convey a woman's power; this time without disempowering her man. This was her box office appeal to women: as a role model of a woman who was yet to be more generally actualized. In this sense, Bette Davis' characters, as role models of empowered women, had far reaching effects upon changing the social status of women to be equal to men.

Helen Bauer (Bette Davis at 25yo) is a sexy, fashion illustrator. Don Peterson (Gene Raymond at 22yo) is an advertising executive, who's proposed marriage to Helen, but she initially refuses because she doesn't want to give up her independence. Much to the chagrin of Helen's moralistic father, Adolphe Bauer (Alphonso Ethier), the unwed couple is obviously having a sexual relationship. In & of itself, the sexual aspects of their unwed relationship would've been censorable due to the Hayes Code had this film been released later.

What's more, after Miss Bauer eventually becomes Mrs. Peterson, Helen's reluctance to marry proves to be like a premonition when her husband begins a sexual flirtation with the bored, flapper wife of his alcoholic friend, Hugo Van Hugh (Frank McHugh), Iris Van Hugh (Claire Dodd). Then, Helen herself tries to platonically date a handsome rouge, Nick Malvyn (Monroe Owsley), who unsuccessfully attempts to make an adulteress of her!

Here are several examples of the delightful dialogue:

Don (Raymond): "I'm just about fed up with sneaking in...let's get married so I'll have the right to be with you."
Helen (Davis): "What do you mean 'right'? I don't like the word 'right'."
Don: "Let's not quibble about words."
Helen: "No, I'm not quibbling, 'right' means something. No one has any
'rights' about me, except me."

Helen conveys soft & sincerely what Bette Davis believed: women are men's equals. Part of the reason such films appealed to Davis' audiences so much is because she portrays empowered women. Helen 'says without saying' that she has the 'right' not to get married & enjoy her sexuality, too (in 1933!).

When Helen (Davis) says: "I don't want babies," Davis commented later in her life (1971), there'd be fewer divorces if couples didn't marry simply to have sex & babies. Even if her point, that couples who get married ought to do so because they are very strongly committed to one another, hasn't been socially adopted in the US, yet, & couples still wed for moralistic reasons, Davis' Helen conveys a higher moral reason for marriage: a feminist one that holds some heavy weight today, since equality between women & men is all the more prevalent, as this early dialogue reveals:

Don (Raymond): "You're a successful woman; I ought not to like it."
Helen (Davis): "You're a pretty successful man; I ought not to like it."
Don & Helen simultaneously: "I'm a man!"

Today, and to the credit of the greatest actor of the 20th century, it's impossible to separate the personal empowerment of Davis' viewers from societies becoming more gender & sexually egalitarian~

(Alert: Not on legal DVD in 2009).

90 of 93 people found this review helpful. Was this review helpful? Yes | No

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