Thursday, January 12, 2012

Watch This Movie: The Divorcee

I watched the Norma Shearer movie The Divorcee (1930) over the weekend believing that the movie's sets included a country house done up in Hollywood Regency decor. Well, wrong movie. The Divorcee did not have such a set. Still, the movie was interesting to watch. A pre-code film, the movie's plot was, for the time, rather scandalous. In a game of tit for tat, Shearer's character cheats on her husband after discovering that he had an affair. (In the scene shown at top, a chipper Shearer had not yet learned about her husband's cheating ways.) Shearer then receives a lesson in society's double standard when it comes to adultery. While her husband's fling was a piffling event, Shearer's affair was a cardinal sin, something that eventually leads her down the road to moral looseness. Let's just say that for the era, the movie was considered to be shocking.

Storyline aside, the movie's Cedric Gibbons designed interiors are a feast of Deco architecture. In both Shearer's apartment as well as the swinging nightclubs, the geometric door surrounds are larger than life, while chevron sconces are quintessential Art Deco.

You know, for such morally challenged people, they certainly lived and partied well. Anyway, have a look:

The fireplace and andirons of Shearer's apartment are so Deco in flavor as is that pair of busts.

Shearer's husband in the kitchen fixing, what else, cocktails. The space is somewhat spartan yet stylish too.

The chevron shaped sconces are also textbook Art Deco, but the real star of this screen shot is that massive piano stool with the low ziggurat back and fluted sides.

A dramatic movie deserves a dramatic entry hall.

The apartment's sofa is definitely unusual. It had two separate backs that fit within the niches; the backs were connected by one large, bow front seat.

One could really make an entrance into the nightclub thanks to the massive door. Classic Moravian star fixtures helped to light the space.

Shearer's apartment after she became The Divorcee. I love the swag to one side of the doorway.


  1. It is interesting that the sconces and the art are installed so high on the wall, especially in the apartment. No doubt consideration was given for how the composition as a backdrop for the action looked on the screen. Very stylish interiors, though.

  2. Classicist,that's a good point. You especially notice the placement of the sconces.

  3. The andirons look like skyscrapers.
    I assume the high drama of the decor in last picture was truly well-suited to the story.

  4. I have watched The Divorcee for the sets..however you noticed things I did not. Will have to rewatch it now. Thank you

  5. Gesbi, I think that you are correct!

    Peggy, would love to hear about the things that you've noticed in the movie.

  6. The swag to the door in the last photo is great, but that little deco sofa is to die for. Have a great day. Mary

  7. Is it possible that you were wanting to see the film "Riptide" instead? Shearer did that one in 1934, and it seems like she's a divorcee who marries an English gentleman, but their marriage hits the rocks when a boozy old beau of hers comes back on the scene.

    I blogged a little bit about an opening scene, with insanely terrific surrealist/futurist costumes a little while back. Plus a little bit about the interiors...

    Maybe it's the one.

  8. The movie you are thinking of is "The Women" with Norma Shearer. Her house is a country cottage with Regency interiors. Love it!