» » Divorce (1945)

Short summary

A woman who has been married and divorced five times comes back to her small hometown, where she proceeds to complicate, and potentially destroy, the marriage of her childhood boyfriend.

The earliest documented telecasts of this film took place in Los Angeles Saturday 17 December 1949 on KNBH (Channel 4), and in New York City Wednesday 17 May 1950 on WATV (Channel 13).

User reviews

  • comment
    • Author: Zonama
    DIVORCE (1945) was Monogram's interpretation of the problems of Divorce. This subject that would become very relevant in the post-war period. There were many quickie marriages when the boys went off too war (WWII) that did not hold up after the conflict was over. The general drift of the film was unfavorable to Divorce. No doubt needed to get through the Censors and the Production Code of 1934.

    THE NUTS; Returning veteran Bob Phillips (BRUCE CABOT) comes home to loving Wife Martha (HELEN MACK) and adoring Children, Michael and Robby. Enter former flame Diane Carter (KAY FRANCIS) fresh from her Divorce and loaded with loot and connections, promptly using her influence to lure Bob away from Martha. This provokes the titled 'DIVORCE' which finally results in a 'Code' resolution. Film is well done and moves quickly and would not disgrace a 'B' level production from any of the majors or middle tier studios.

    MONOGRAM PICTURES CORPORATION (1931-1953) was referred too as a 'poverty row' studio. Cranking out cheap programmers usually budgeted for less then $100,000.00 each and shot in less then two (2) weeks. In some ways they could be consider REPUBLIC Jr. without good musical scores or special visual effects by the LYDECKER Brothers. Nor with any name Stars featured and thats where this film is different.

    DIVORCE featured some real (and former) name Stars. KAY FRANCIS, WARNER BROTHERS, BRUCE CABOT and HELEN MACK, RKO. Plus character actors JEROME COWAN, MARY GORDON, JONATHAN HALE, ADDISON RICHARDS and others who appeared in major and middle tier studios efforts. Both in 'A' and 'B' productions. Nobody remember ADDISON RICHARDS as 'Crofton' in NORTHWEST PASSAGE (1940) M.G.M.? The rest have similar impressive credits, check them out. The question to be asked is what did these people do with their money when the going was good so they did not end up at MONOGRAM? Perhaps some of them just liked the work.
  • comment
    • Author: Mavegar
    Divorce (1945)

    A direct look at divorce (and marriage) with the distinct view that divorce is a shame. In fact, the first short part of the movie is a bit of moralizing by a (male) judge, laying the guilt on a woman for using the "wrong" discipline on her son, and for complaining that her husband locked her up in her room. It's hard to take, if you take it seriously. But this prelude is really only a set-up for a plot that begins, indirectly with the same judge, about a woman who has been through quite a number of divorces.

    And this woman, Diane, is played by the real great actress of the movie, Kay Francis, who also co-produces. That is, this is her movie, and she doesn't mind being a kind of charming villain, breaking into a happy family like a worldly urbane siren, apparently irresistible. She's terrific. But you worry very much about the "other" woman, Martha, the simpler but more pure one, played with real angst by Helen Mack, who I'd never heard of, but who had a full career in the 1930s. A shame to see that this was her last film.

    1945 is of course the year the War ended, and this movie is an alternate take on the film noir version of the G.I. returning to a changed world, unable to adjust. Here it is not a bit fanciful or infested with crime and visual drama. No, this is the real deal, and it might strike some as a little ordinary at times, but for me this helped it enormously. The sincerity of everyone, and the straight up acting by the whole cast, is perfect for the theme. Diane, it turns out, is a true femme fatale, but made so everyday and believable you can't really call her that fairly.

    The point overall is paying attention to what matters in your relationship--especially appreciating that old fashioned husband-wife relationship, with children and home and so on. It's persuasive because it sets things up to be persuasive, even though Diane is a powerhouse and a successful women, something everyone appreciates. Everyone except Martha. The man between these two women is a bit of a follower. He arrives back from fighting to his wife and children and he's still a soldier somehow, not coping, but wanting to cope. If there's a weakness here, it's him, not just the actor Bruce Cabot, but the role, which is too passive to give it life.

    The movie, though, works overall. It not only makes its moral point, but it creates a sense of how the transition of men back home might have been, a kind of precursor to the more famous film about these themes a year later, "The Best Years of Our Lives."
  • comment
    • Author: DrayLOVE
    "Divorce" opens with a crawl condemning divorce as certain to produce misery. It follows with a scene in family court in which a judge refuses to grant one divorce (thus forcing a couple who hate each other to stay together). He reluctantly grants a second despite the obvious collusion involved. The judge preaches against divorce as purely a product of selfishness and bitterness. In the second case, the wife is the oft-married Diane Carter who is a pure gold digger. She isn't present to hear the judge's opinion of her character.

    Diane then returns to her home town where she quickly establishes herself as a world class home wrecker. With little effort, she breaks up the happy marriage of Bob and Martha. Diane offers Bob unlimited investment money for his struggling business and a lot more excitement than Martha and their two loving kids. When she catches on, Martha insists on a divorce and rejects all support, taking a humble job in a department store to support herself and the children. The children suffer badly from their dad's absence. Meanwhile, Bob discovers that Diane is no bed of roses.

    Viewers of this film must understand that divorce was one of those forbidden subjects under the Hays Code. Filmmakers simply were not allowed to make a serious, balanced film about divorce. The Hays Code was written by a priest and a prominent Catholic layman (Daniel Lord and Martin Quigley). From 1934 on, the Code was firmly administered by a prominent Catholic layman (Joseph I. Breen). One of the reasons the industry accepted self censorship was to ward off boycott threats from the Catholic church. So it is no surprise that the Hays Code firmly embodied Catholic moral teachings--especially including absolute opposition to divorce. Broadly speaking, the only kind of divorce movies that got made during this period were romantic comedies (like "The Awful Truth") in which couples get divorced early in the picture but remarry in the end.

    "Divorce" is a serious movie on the subject of divorce that could easily have been produced by the Catholic church to impress teenagers or young married couples at weekend retreats. It puts divorce on the level of genocide in the moral firmament. Its preachiness is incredible and its dramatic value is nil. Needless to say, Breen approved of this film without any reservations. (The censorship files are preserved at the Motion Picture Academy's Herrick library in Beverly Hills).
  • comment
    • Author: Chankane
    This is not a "bad" movie on divorce it makes it's point- the kids are the real loosers in the process. Overall the movie is well written in the 30's, 40's & 50's style of tying things together for the sake of the work rather than attempting to show "realism". An early shot of Bob Phillips (Bruce Cabot)performing a "Court Marshall" for home discipline comes back to haunt him in his final scene as his two boys act as the judge & jury. I have no problem with Kay Francis in her role as the worldly woman stealing away a restless husband returning from WWII. This was a common theme following the war because it was a common problem (& again to point out it's timeliness- it is still a problem). But for pure acting the one to watch was Helen Mack as Martha Phillips. Her dialog delivery and timing are a delight to watch even when the writing does not quite live up to the best of the "golden age" of movie making.
  • comment
    • Author: Kanek
    Although she had talked of retirement, Kay Francis was not really ready for it and when a chance came to co-produce her own films she eagerly signed. Most of her friends advised against it - after all she was going to the studio of burned out stars - Monogram!! Her associate was a feisty Cockney, Jeffrey Bernerd. He could remember Kay from her "royal heyday" and was surprised at her cost cutting ways - insistence on searching for low budget vehicles, taking a hand in re-writing the scripts and even convincing other players to take pay cuts. Even so, I do agree with the other reviewer, this movie had a stylish look about it and could have held it's head up with a Paramount or even a MGM logo.

    "Marriage - entered into with such high hopes etc" - can this preachy prologue really be part of a film co-produced by Kay Francis, one of the slinkiest, sexiest of the pre-code dames!! How times had changed!!! Sophisticated Diane Carter (Kay Francis) goes back to her home town to escape being present at her latest divorce. Bob (Bruce Cabot) and Martha (Helen Mack) are celebrating their tenth wedding anniversary - Bob is not 100% happy, he has just returned from the army and is a bit discontented with his humdrum life.

    Enter Diane, who is delighted to take off where she left off all those years ago - and Bob is happy to oblige!!! Later that night Bob and Martha have words and Bob gets quite defensive about some comments made about Diane at the party. Diane persuades Bob to go into a real estate partnership with her and then starts to insinuate herself into the children's lives - buying them bikes, train sets and taking them on picnics. Martha brings things to a head by issuing Divorce proceedings!!

    Scorning support from Bob, Martha gets a job in a department store and Bob Jnr. starts to sell newspapers after school. Bob Snr., on the other hand, is so besotted with Diane that he neglects his visits to his children - just what Diane intends!! It bogs down in sentimentality at the end (as you knew it would) when Bob, finally finding a chance to see his children, gets into a game of "Court Martial" - "Daddy, you made Mommy cry - so you will be reduced in rank to a private and be banished from the house"!! Diane overhears and by the end credits is on the train -alone and sadder but wiser. Whether it was Cabot's wooden acting (probably), somehow it is hard to believe he is sufficiently chastened - you can imagine him waiting until another old flame hits the town.

    Sadly, this movie proved to be Helen Mack's last movie. She may have been a poor man's Frances Dee but she moved from young ingenue roles ("Son of Kong" (1933), "Sweepings" (1933)) to young mothers ("I Promise to Pay" (1937)) effortlessly. She left films to take an active role in producing and writing radio dramas.

    Highly Recommended.
  • comment
    • Author: Zavevidi
    At the onset, I am going to say something that might sound horrible, but here goes....Kay Francis was a lovely actress in the early 1930s and could have easily carried off this role in 1933. However, by 1945, she was middle-aged and a bit "lumpy". Having her play the role of a super-vixen was great in the 30s, but here it just was too great a stretch--especially since the lady whose husband she took (Helen Mack) was prettier, sweeter and it frankly made no sense why Bruce Cabot would abandon his loving wife for Francis. Plus, having Francis play a four time divorced lady made her even less attractive to any sane man. So, the main premise for this dreary little film is flawed due to poor casting. Frankly, having Francis play the wife would have actually made much more sense--too bad that Francis (the co-producer) was stuck seeing herself as the 1930s vamp. She carried it off great a long time ago, but times had changed.

    Now the idea of a marriage failing and its impact on the family is in itself an excellent idea. After all, in most films divorce is ignored and the consequences are invisible. However, in addition to the bad casting, the plot was just a mess at times and it looked as if they rushed this film into production before all the kinks were worked out satisfactorily. A few of the problems would include the occasionally laughable dialog, the idea of focusing almost all the anger and blame on Francis when Cabot was the one who abandoned his family (what a bad cliché--blaming it all on "the other woman" thus absolving the husband for infidelity), the ridiculous ending (none of it made any sense--it was just BAD) as well as the schmaltzy scenes (such as the family court martial scenes that were too stupid to mention further).

    The bottom line is that Monogram Studios was known for its shoddy productions and this one is no exception. They simply cranked out second-rate B-movies like mad and quality was NOT a concern. Too bad, as this could have been a much better film.
  • comment
    • Author: Pemand
    Give Kay Francis some credit - she went where she could find work. After sticking out a Warners contract where all Warners wanted was to get rid of her, Francis did some films for Monogram, a few notches down from Warners, MGM and the like. "Divorce" was one such vehicle.

    The story concerns a four-time divorcée, Diane Carter(Francis) who goes back to her home town. She meets an old beau of hers (Bruce Cabot), a happily married man, and she agrees to back him in a business opportunity. His wife (Helen Mack) feels threatened by Diane, becomes jealous, and when her husband lets her and their two children down a few times, they divorce. Then he really does take up with Diane.

    I didn't think this film was good. For one thing, that marriage went sour mighty quickly, and the wife didn't fight for her husband at all. She just gave up. They have two small children who adore their father, and both husband and wife allow the divorce to take place. Ridiculous. Also, the wife tears up the alimony checks and goes to work. Fine, but again, what about the kids? She didn't need money for them? Pride can only be taken so far. The movie doesn't flesh anything out - was the guy just dazzled by Diane's glamor, flattered by her attention, so engrossed in business he let things slide at home? Or did he just no longer care for his wife? I think he was still in love with his wife and needed a kick in the rear. As for Diane's motives - well, it looked to me like once she saw an opening, she went for it.

    I didn't like anyone in this film except those poor kids, and I didn't care what happened to Diane, her ex-boyfriend or his wife. No wonder Kay Francis retired.
  • comment
    • Author: Bev
    I wouldn't give this an "awful", but it was nearly so. The story was so preachy---I guess it was meant to be. Kay's character Diane and her furs fling into town and steal an old inamorata away from his wife---on their 10th wedding anniversary! That's the bottom of the barrel, no doubt. The thing with Kay Francis was that she always had that little smirky smile on face...did she always play super-rich, super-intelligent women? If so, didn't she get tired of it? Back to story...why Indignant Wife didn't march over to the garden swing, grab The Hussy by her shiny hair and drag her around the yard (and kick Hubby With The Wandering Eye right square where it hurt the worst) is beyond me, and why didn't the 80+ guests go find Bobby for the cake-cutting themselves?? All valid questions, IMO. Anyway, Hussy gets her comeuppance; I was sure waiting for a cat fight when she met Ex-Wife at the door as she was leaving~~~didn't happen. Best part of the movie? The passenger train receding down the track. As an aside, was that train doing about 200 mph? LOL! Silly, silly, silly movie.
  • comment
    • Author: Fearlessrunner
    You cannot rate Monogram films on the same scale as MGM, 20th or Warners; It simply isn't realistic when you compare budgets, shooting schedules and the lack of "A" list stars. Sure, by 1945, Monogram was grabbing some former "A" list stars, and here is one of the biggest-Kay Francis. Getting ready to return to the stage, she was unknowingly wrapping up her screen career by producing three films she starred in. I have, thus far, seen two-"Divorce" and "Allotment Wives", both interesting dramas of different themes and worth watching. "Allotment Wives" is a sleeper/film noir that has gotten somewhat of a cult status. "Divorce" is a domestic drama of a much married divorcée who returns to her home town and wreaks havoc.

    Having trapped Cary Grant into a loveless marriage in "In Name Only", here Kay is a predatory female who gets an old flame (now married with children) involved in a real estate deal and then steals him away from his wife. Bruce Cabot is the husband and Helen Mack is the wife. Both Cabot and Mack were previous second string stars at "A" studios, but reduced to Monogram by this time. Francis, in spite of having played all those troubled mothers at Warner Brothers, had played a series of trouble-making wives and mistresses-check out "A Notorious Affair" and "Passion Flower". She has a great exit line here that brings on a sense of irony.

    Monogram was known for one thing-making them cheap and quick, no fancy long running time and no messing around with silly subplots to drag the film up to 90 minutes. These were second features, and with them, there is no nonsense. The dialog is crisp, to the point, sometimes a bit silly or trite, yet never stagy or too chatty. This is one of their more elegant productions, a bit more art decco than most, and very well acted. Some critics comment on the relationship between Cabot and Mack and their children as a bit too much, but I found it unique, like it was from the writer's own experience, and a nice touch. That lovable Scottish character actress, Mary Gordon, is their devoted housekeeper, looking over them just like she did for Sherlock Holmes for years.
  • comment
    • Author: Thetalen
    While many shall refer to this 1945 film as pure soap opera, nevertheless, it's a rare gem.

    A judge handling divorce cases shows his disdain for this sociological phenomena and then we get right down to our story.

    After soaking her latest husband, a woman returns to the town of her birth and within a short time destroys the marriage of an old flame, a recently returned soldier with a wife and two children.

    It didn't take long to do this and of course the picture shows the effects of the divorce on the wife, who goes to work rather than to accept money from her husband and the two young boys from their marriage, hurt that their dad didn't keep his visiting right appointment with them.

    The ending is just grand where all seem to come to their senses.
  • Cast overview, first billed only:
    Kay Francis Kay Francis - Dianne Carter
    Bruce Cabot Bruce Cabot - Bob Phillips
    Helen Mack Helen Mack - Martha Phillips
    Jerome Cowan Jerome Cowan - Jim Driscoll
    Craig Reynolds Craig Reynolds - Bill Endicott
    Ruth Lee Ruth Lee - Liz Smith
    Jean Fenwick Jean Fenwick - June Endicott
    Mary Gordon Mary Gordon - Ellen
    Larry Olsen Larry Olsen - Michael Phillips
    Johnny Calkins Johnny Calkins - Robby Phillips
    Jonathan Hale Jonathan Hale - Judge Conlon
    Addison Richards Addison Richards - Plummer
    Leonard Mudie Leonard Mudie - Harvey Hicks
    Reid Kilpatrick Reid Kilpatrick - Dr. Andy Cole
    Virginia Wave Virginia Wave - Secretary
    All rights reserved © 2017-2022