AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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When Ladies Meet
Director: Robert Z. Leonard (Dir)
Release Date:   29 Aug 1941
Production Date:   25 Jun--11 Aug 1941
Duration (in mins):   103 or 105
Duration (in feet):   9,458
Duration (in reels):   11
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Cast:   Joan Crawford (Mary Howard)  
    Robert Taylor (Jimmy Lee)  
    Greer Garson (Clare Woodruf)  
    Herbert Marshall (Rogers Woodruf)  
    Spring Byington (Bridget Drake)  
    Rafael Storm (Walter Del Canto)  
    Mona Barrie (Mabel Guiness)  
    Max Willenz (Pierre)  
    Florence Shirley (Janet Hopper)  
    Leslie Francis (Homer Hopper)  
    Olaf Hytten (Matthews, the butler)  
    Barbara Bedford (Anna, the maid)  
    Harold Minjir (Clerk)  
    Gayne Whitman (Office manager)  
    Jean Fenwick (Woman at Guinness party)  
    John Marlowe (Violinist)  
    Mary Forbes    
    Ottola Nesmith    

Summary: At a New York literary reception given by flighty Bridget Drake, journalist Jimmy Lee, who has been working in California for some time, proposes to novelist Mary Howard, unaware that during his absence, Mary has fallen in love with another man. Her friends have not seen much of Mary lately, and Jimmy notices that she seems more serious and dedicated to her work. When her new publisher, the sophisticated, intellectual Rogers Woodruf shows up, Jimmy knows that he has met his rival. A few days later, Jimmy goes to Mary's house and comments on the amount of time she spends with Rogers, who is married. He also angers her by saying that her unfinished book, which is about a woman having an affair with a married man, is vulgar and unrealistic. While they are arguing, Bridgie arrives with her decorator friend, Walter Del Canto, and invites Mary to stay at her house in the country. Mary then discreetly asks Bridgie to invite Rogers for the weekend for "business." After Jimmy and Bridgie leave, Mary asks for advice about her protagonist from Rogers, who has just arrived, and tells him her idea that the woman confront her lover's wife. That evening, at a dinner party that Jimmy attends as an "extra man," he meets Rogers' wife Clare, not knowing at first who she is. Jimmy likes the charming and attractive Clare and feels badly when he realizes that her husband has not told her about Mary. Later, a drunken Jimmy shows up at Mary's and interrupts her in an embrace with Rogers. During his ramblings, he tells Rogers that he has just met Clare and that she has invited him to go sailing. On the weekend, while Rogers goes to Bridgie's house to see Mary, Jimmy and Clare go sailing, then Jimmy secretly calls Rogers' office, claiming to be a well-known author that Rogers wants to sign, and says that he needs to speak with Rogers right away. When Rogers' office gives him the message, he leaves, promising to return that evening. A short time later Jimmy, accompanied by an unsuspecting Clare, arrives claiming that he is lost, and Bridgie invites them for dinner. Jimmy tells Clare that he needs her to make Mary jealous and she goodnaturedly agrees. As part of his ruse, he introduces her as "Mrs. Clare" so that Mary will not know her real identity. Later, because lightning has caused a tree to fall, blocking their car, Clare and Jimmy must spend the night. During the evening, Mary comes to like and admire Clare, who confesses that her husband has had many women since their marriage but always comes back to her when his interest in his infatuations wanes. She also confesses that she is worried because he has recently become involved with someone who may be "the real thing." When Mary casually mentions the name of her publisher, Clare knows that Mary is the woman. Just then Rogers returns and is shocked to see Clare. When Mary realizes who Clare is, she is shattered, and the three discuss the details of Mary's book, which has become a metaphor for their own lives. Then, while Rogers goes to Jimmy's room to confront him about his subterfuge, Mary orders a taxi to return to town. In the living room, Mary and Clare talk and Mary confesses that she regrets hurting Clare. After Clare leaves the room, Rogers enters and tells Mary that he has never told anyone the truth, not even Clare. He also confesses that he now knows that his love for Clare is greater than his love for her. Mary realizes that she has been a fool to take their relationship for anything other than it was. When Bridgie and the others come into the living room, Mary runs off, crying. While Clare awaits her cab, Rogers tells her how much she means to her, but she tells him that she has finally stopped loving him because, after meeting Mary, she knows how cruel he has been. After Clare leaves, Jimmy advises the remorseful Rogers to go after her. Finally, after Bridgie and Walter retire, Mary and Jimmy kiss. 

Production Company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp. (Loew's Inc.)
Distribution Company: Loew's Inc.  
Director: Robert Z. Leonard (Dir)
  Robert Golden (Asst dir)
Producer: Robert Z. Leonard (Prod)
  Orville O. Dull (Prod)
Writer: S. K. Lauren (Scr)
  Anita Loos (Scr)
  John Meehan (Contr wrt)
  Leon Gordon (Contr wrt)
Photography: Robert Planck (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons (Art dir)
  Randall Duell (Assoc)
Film Editor: Robert J. Kern (Film ed)
Set Decoration: Edwin B. Willis (Set dec)
Costumes: Adrian (Gowns)
Music: Bronislau Kaper (Mus score)
Sound: Douglas Shearer (Rec dir)
Make Up: Sydney Guilaroff (Hair styles created by)
Country: United States

Songs: "For All Eternity," music by Angelo Mascheroni, English lyrics by S. A. Herbert.
Composer: S. A. Herbert
  Angelo Mascheroni
Source Text: Based on the play When Ladies Meet by Rachel Crothers, as produced by John Golden, Inc. (New York, 6 Oct 1932).
Authors: John Golden
  Rachel Crothers

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number Passed By NBR:
Loew's Inc. 28/8/1941 dd/mm/yyyy LP10713 Yes

PCA NO: 7593
Physical Properties: b&w:
  Sd: Western Electric Sound System

Genre: Drama
Subjects (Major): Infidelity
  Publishers and publishing
Subjects (Minor): Drunkenness
  Interior decorators
  New York City

Note: The film received an Oscar nomination for Best Art Direction. Spring Byington recreated the role of "Bridgie" from the Broadway version of Rachel Crother's play, which was also the basis of a 1933 M-G-M film entitled When Ladies Meet . The title of the earlier film was at one time changed to Strange Skirts for its television release to avoid confusion with the 1941 version. The 1933 film, which was written by John Meehan and Leon Gordon (both of whom are credited on the SAB only as contributing writers), was directed by Harry Beaumont and starred Ann Harding, Robert Montgomery and Myrna Loy (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ; F3.5046). The 1941 picture very closely follows the plot of the 1933 film. An ABC television of the play was broadcast on 11 Jun 1952, directed by Alex Segal and starring Patricia Morison and Richard Carlson. 

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
American Cinematographer   Sep 41   p. 454.
Box Office   30 Aug 1941.   
Daily Variety   27 Aug 1941.   
Film Daily   28 Aug 41   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   26 Jun 41   p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter   27 Jun 41   p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter   8 Aug 41   p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter   11 Aug 1041   p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter   27 Aug 41   p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald   30 Aug 1941.   
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   23 Aug 41   p. 219.
New York Times   5 Sep 41   p. 19.
Variety   27 Aug 41   p. 8.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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