SUSAN LENOX: HER FALL AND RISE 1931- When I realized this starred Clark Gable with Greta, I couldn't believe I had never heard of this, then I saw the film. The beginning shows such promise with Greta as Helga an abandoned child who "will not become like her mother" and is being given to a man her uncle has chosen for her. We aren't offered much about Helga's mother except she that 'she was without a ring', leading us to the obvious dated conclusion her mom was a harlot for having a child out of wedlock. Helga runs away after her betrothed decides he will enjoy his bride to be without her consent and she meets Rodney (Gable) an aspiring architect. The story veered straight to silly at this point as he takes her in and they immediately share some port and caviar and several other silly, attempting to be romantic scenes. It gets even sillier when Helga has to run away from her uncle who show up to Rodney's place (while Rodney is gone on business) and she winds up with some carnies on a train. One of these carnies, a painted lady named Pansy, names Helga Susan Lenox. Again Helga, now Susan, is tracked down by her Uncle and this time she is hidden on the train by the leader of the carnies, who then takes advantage of her. At some point Rodney tracks Susan down, but when he finds out she has given herself to another man (though it was pretty obvious she was raped, but she never brings this up) he storms away and Susan devotes herself to being a kept woman, ending up eventually with a wealthy politician and Rodney a ruined, drunken failure. She does try to help Rodney, but the scene doesn't make too much sense as it's part revenge, and part love??
The story ends up as most love stories do, but story-wise it just drives off cliff after cliff. Toonces the cat obviously driving this Garbo/Gable vehicle that was the only film they did together. There is potential for chemistry and you can definitely see the Rhett Butler glimpses in this performance, but the movie severely lacks in anything meaningful or romantic.
Though the final bit of dialogue did leave me wondering,
Rodney- "Every time a man comes around I'd wonder,"
Susan- "I'll make you believe in me."
Susan is obviously hinted that she is/has become a mistress to many men, and at the end she and Rodney have to be together out of the painful love they share and it made me think of something I had brought up in chat about women who cheat, men who stay with them, and the archaic idea of saving yourself for marriage. Cheating and staying with someone who has cheated probably occurs out of senses of duty and love and/or the sakes of any children involved, I get and respect that. I just am not sure how big of a man I would be to stay in a situation like that. As to the other part of the food for thought, is the idea that women should be pure and saving themselves for their husband, and if they don't they are tainted in some way. But a man is able to sow his royal oats with little to no backlash, even at times congratulatory or some type of conquest or achievement. Silly, old notions that needs to be moved past.