FAITHLESS is pre-code melodrama with a capital ‘M’.
Tallulah Bankhead,as Carol Morgan, runs the gamut,and does a 360 degree character change and comes out at the end a better person!
The Depression leads heiress Carol to losing her Trust fund and her lavish life style. She cant bring herself to marry Bill Wade (Robert Montgomery) who loves her but doesn’t earn enough to keep her in the only style she knows.
Her banker (Henry Kolker) suggest she get a job. She responds, “I cant work. I don’t know how.”
Before long Carol is a house guest at various wealthy society families, until one, Mrs Blainey finds Carol’s been borrowing from her friends.She doesn’t spare Carol, “Your name isn’t worth anything anymore. You’re just a social pan-handler.”
But Mr Blainey (Hugh Herbert as a sleazy gambling house owner (Did I just say that – Hugh Herbert,that lovable buffoon we all know?) sets Carol up as his mistress.
Bill finds her again and Blainey makes it clear he owns the apartment Carol is living in. Bill leaves, and Carol finally decides she’s had enough of Blainey.
Wasting no time whatsoever, the very next scene has Carol in a line of folk waiting to get some food,but it’s gone before she gets to the head of the queue.
Again, the faithful Bill finds her and asks if she’d like to be a truck driver’s wife. (He had lost his well paid job but is willing to work at anything). They marry but Carol’s suffering and character conversion isn’t over yet. Bill is badly hurt on his first day at work, when two truckers beat him up for breaking a strike.
Carol tries desperately to get a job. …”I’ll scrub floors, wash dishes.” Their landlady is looking for the rent, Bill is still very unwell. Carol needs money for food and medical supplies.She goes out and comes back later with food etc, and it’s clear she’s been prostituting herself.
Finally fate, in the shape of a beat cop, steps in and gets her a job as a waitress.
Happiness at last? Not quite .Just before getting a job,Bill’s brother turns up and Carol, not recognising him, tries to pick him up in the street. Later the brother visits the recovering Bill and,not knowing they are married, says, “I always said she’d end up on the streets!”
When Carol arrives,she thinks Bill will reject her.Instead he says, “I owe my life to Carol.We’ve been hungry together, she’s cooked my food, washed my clothes and now this.I wondered where the money was coming from.It must have taken a lot to keep me alive.”
So a morality tale which, after the Production Code came into force, would never have been told.
Robert Montgomery was not required to do much more than be handsome and supportive.
It’s Tallulah’s film and she is pretty good, with that deep voice and a strong personality. I understand she wasn’t the type of person to agree to whatever a studio wanted her to do. In fact she wasn’t back in Hollywood till 1946 (for Lifeboat). Tallulah had a very productive career on Broadway and originated the roles played on film by Bette Davis in Dark Victory and Little Foxes.
I wish she had made more films .