"I've discovered it doesn't pay to be capable. Husbands don't approve."
So says Greer Garson's character, a much put-upon wife (was there any other kind?) of a cheating husband who was having a fling with Joan Crawford's character. While Joan had marvelously played the other woman in 1939's stellar The Women, in this 1941 MGM offering she's a more kind, sympathetic character - - although it beats me why she'd be pining over Herbert Marshall's publisher when Robert Taylor is just begging her to marry him.
When Ladies Meet was a successful 1932 stage play by Rachel Crowthers and an equally successful 1933 MGM Pre-Code, in which Myrna Loy, Ann Harding, Robert Montgomery, and Frank Morgan play the parts that Joan Crawford, Greer Garson, Robert Taylor and Herbert Marshall helm in MGM's 1941 version.
|Mary and Jimmy. In an Adrian creation, this is what Mary wears to a book signing|
"The only real unhappiness in life is losing a man."
Joan portrays Mary Howard, a novelist with then advanced and modern ideas about love and marriage -- maybe because she's in love with her married publisher, Rogers Woodruff (Herbert Marshall). Mary's current work-in-progress is teeming with originality - - her heroine is in love with a married man. In Mary's mind and world, the only logical thing to do in such a circumstance is to lure Rogers away from his wife, Claire (Greer Garson). After all, all is fair in love and war, even if you are batting against Garson. Or Crawford.
|Mary only has eyes for Rogers|
You can't watch and review this film without comparing it to the 1933 version, which maybe isn't fair to either one. Although the Production Code came into effect after the 1933 version, the remake was fairly similar, albeit a bit more meaty. The biggest differences, at least in my opinion, is between the two Mrs. Woodruffs and the two Marys. 1933 Mary seems more matter-of-fact and cutthroat than the 1941 Mary, which is interesting, given that Myrna Loy (1933) is often thought of as more compassionate while Joan Crawford (1941) is more easily seen as a maneater, to put it frankly. 1933's Claire Woodruff is portrayed as a rather timid woman who has nothing other than her marriage, with Ann Harding perfectly cast in the part. With Garson portraying Claire in this version, she's not only much (much) further away from being timid and rather dowdy but she's so self-assured and independent, there's no doubt she would kick Rogers around and over the Brooklyn Bridge.
|Amazing star power and fashion - Crawford, Garson, and Byington|
"Death isn't nature's greatest mistake; falling in love is."
|Rogers, Mary and Bridget, who can't hide her laughter over either|
Mary's hat or her choice in men
|Even gardening calls for high fashion!|
Herbert Marshall was always a solid, dependable actor and he delivers here in what's basically a thankless part. I mean, he's married to Greer Garson, who is charismatic and charming, and is a serial philanderer. So yeah, we're not going to feel a whole lot of sympathy for him.
As we have to wonder why Joan/Mary would choose Herbert/Rogers over the far more loyal (and single) Robert/Jimmy, we also have to wonder why Greer's Claire would opt to stay with a husband who is a clear womanizer. She's beautiful, charming, can speak French; surely she could have her pick of men. It's a mystery.
The scene in which Joan and Greer, neither knowing who the other is, have a frank discussion about whether a husband can be in love with his wife and another woman, is brilliantly done, especially the part where Greer's Claire talks about how much work it takes for love and staying in love.
|Claire and Mary talk shop -- and husbands|
The plotline is hardly original, maybe less so since it's a remake, but the star power in this flick, along with Cedric Gibbons' set designs (he also did the designs in the 1933 offering) and Adrian's amazing costuming that flatters Crawford and Garson make When Ladies Meet worth watching. When Ladies Meet is generally not a deep thinker but it's a rewarding way to spend a rainy afternoon.
When Ladies Meet is shown on TCM and is available on DVD for purchase.
|Bridget's entry into the sunken living room of her country home|
|Doesn't everyone have a backyard like Bridget's? That's a pool, by the way.|