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Our Betters (1933)

Passed | | Comedy, Drama, Romance | 17 March 1933 (USA)
Although the British upper class may be thought our betters in society, but they are certainly not our betters, and perhaps our equals, in morality.

Director:

George Cukor

Writers:

W. Somerset Maugham (play), Jane Murfin (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Constance Bennett ... Lady Pearl Grayston
Violet Kemble Cooper ... Duchess (as Violet Kemble-Cooper)
Phoebe Foster ... Princess
Grant Mitchell ... Thornton Clay
Charles Starrett ... Fleming Harvey
Anita Louise ... Bessie
Gilbert Roland ... Pepi D'Costa
Minor Watson ... Arthur Fenwick
Hugh Sinclair ... Lord Bleane
Alan Mowbray ... Lord George Grayston
Harold Entwistle Harold Entwistle ... Pole
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Virginia Howell ... Mrs. Saunders (scenes deleted)
Walter Walker Walter Walker ... Mr. Saunders (scenes deleted)
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Storyline

American heiress Pearl Saunders marries Lord George Grayston but later sees him embracing his lover on their wedding day. She has his title and he has her money; thereafter they are rarely seen together. Pearl is accepted by the British aristocracy and is presented at court, but creates a scandal by wearing black. She encourages her younger sister, Bessie, who idolizes her, to respond to the attentions of Lord Harry Bleane despite Bessie preferring American Fleming Harvey. Pearl gives a weekend party at the Grayston estate inviting close friends, including her lover, Arthur Fenwick; her friend, Duchess Minnie and Minnie's gigolo companion, Pepi D'Costa; as well as Bessie, Lord Bleane and Harvey. Pepi, who had been meeting Pearl on the sly, discretely suggests a rendezvous with her in the new teahouse on the property. Both make some pretext to leave but are seen by Minnie entering the teahouse. Vindictive Minnie pretends to have left her purse in the teahouse and sends Bessie to fetch ... Written by Arthur Hausner <genart@volcano.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

gay | f rated | wedding | sister | party | See All (28) »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

17 March 1933 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Haute société See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Photophone System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The play opened on Broadway in New York City, New York, USA on 12 March 1917 and closed in June 1917 after 112 performances. It was revived on 20 February 1928 with Ina Claire as Pearl, Constance Collier as the Duchess, Reginald Bach (who also directed) as Thornton Clay, and with Lillian Kemble-Cooper and Madge Evans. The revival ran for 128 performances and closed in June 1928. See more »

Goofs

When Pepi and Minnie meet the day after his "indescretion", in one shot he's lighting a cigarette and standing to the left of a table between himself and Minnie. In the next closer shot, still lighting the cigarette, he's now standing to the right of the table and next to Minnie. Furthermore, the lighter suddenly changes from Pepi's left hand to his right. See more »

Quotes

Minnie, Duchess of Sourae: Marriage is so middle class. It takes away all the romance of love.
See more »

Connections

Featured in The Celluloid Closet (1995) See more »

Soundtracks

Waltz of the Flowers
(1891-2) (uncredited)
from "The Nutcracker Ballet, Op.71"
Written by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
In the score during the royal court scenes
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Plays out like a 1930's version of a reality show
4 October 2008 | by AlsExGalSee all my reviews

Constance Bennett plays Pearl, an heiress bride who, on her wedding day immediately after the ceremony, overhears her new husband tell his lover that he married Pearl only for her money as he and his lover are penniless. However, he does have a British title, and Constance goes to live in Britain with him, with their lavish lifestyle at first financed by her money. When that runs out, she has a lover who supplies her with cash.

I generally watch these old films to escape the cynicism of today's world, and this film fails in that respect. The entire cast behaves in a despicable and inhuman manner like something out of ancient Rome, with the exception of Pearl's young sister Bessie, who is a wide-eyed innocent about to make the same mistake as Pearl did when she married her faithless husband. We all figure that Pearl behaving like a manipulative pleasure-addicted ice queen is rooted in her husband's betrayal, but nothing is said about motivation at all until the end of the film. George Cukor generally did a great job in these "women's films", especially if Katharine Hepburn was starring. But then Kate was such an excellent actress that she could get her motivation across without the use of explicit dialogue. Constance Bennett usually could do so too, so why things don't pan out here theatrically I have no idea.

As an aside, it is interesting that Gilbert Roland and Constance Bennett play lovers in this and one other film from 1933 - "After Tonight" - yet don't marry until eight years later. I wonder if there's a story there?


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