IN NAME ONLY is one of the great films to come out of that golden year in Hollywood of 1939. Carole Lombard and Cary Grant were teamed for the first and only time in this romantic melodrama.
Cary plays wealthy Alec Walker who is in an unhappy marriage to Maida (Kay Francis). When he meets widow Julie Eden (Carole Lombard),he falls in love and wants a divorce.
But Maida is the wife from hell. This film isn’t a noir, but Kay Francis as Maida is up there with Phyllis Dietrichson in Double Indemnity . Maida doesn’t plan a murder but you know she is perfectly capable of it. She settles for making her husband’s life as miserable as possible.
Maida doesn’t spare him,revealing she was in love with another man,
“I had a choice. I could take David and love and nothing else, or I could take you and what went with you. I took you.” Kay’s deceptively quiet tone is lethal!
Maida presents a completely different face to Alec’s parents (Charles Coburn and Nella Walker) who are completely taken in by her. To them she is the perfect wife and the innocent victim of Alec’s infidelity.
Social standing and wealth are what Maida tick. She’s manipulative,heartless and played brilliantly and silkily smooth by Kay Francis. Maida is a monster in human form,and you get more and more impatient as the film progresses for the truth about her to come out.
She threatens Julie that she will drag Julie’s little daughter through the divorce courts.
So, when it does happen, and the real Maida is revealed,you want to punch the air and yell out,’At last!’
So here is the scene I love every time I watch it.
Alec is in hospital,very ill with pheumonia. Julie isn’t allowed to go up to his room and when Mr.Walker arrives, he walks right passed her,ignoring her.
Mr.Walker talks to the consultant who says Alec has no desire to get well. He says, “It is our business to find someone to give him that desire.”
Mr.Walker says that Alec’s wife is on her way,but the consultant realises that it is Julie’s name that Alec has been calling out while delirious.
The consultant gets Julie to see Alec,saying his chances of recovery depend on what she says to him. –
“You must tell him that there is hope – tell him whatever he wants to hear.”
(Maurice Moscovich was impressive as the consultant.)
Julie reassures Alec that they can be married. Mr Walker sees the state she is in when she comes out of Alec’s room, and says to her,”I’m sorry it has to be this way.”
Mr.Walker leaves the room to have a word with Alec’s doctor. Julie is sitting in the ante-room, in tears, when Maida arrives. Julie immediately says,”Wait,please,don’t go in there. Alec is very ill.He may not live.But if he does live,it’s because he believes he will not see you again.”
Maida retaliates, “You’ve handled this very skillfully,Miss Eden.You’ve made it look as if Alec’s life depends on you. I admire your ingenuity but it won’t work.”
Maida moves towards the door again and Julie blocks her way again. Almost incredulously, she says to Maida,
“You’d rather see him dead than with me, wouldn’t you.?”
Just then, very quietly Mr. and Mrs. Walker come in and,unseen, hear the rest of the conversation.
Julie says, You don’t love him“, and Maida for once tells the truth.
“I gave up love for what I’ve got.Do you think I’m going to let you or anyone else get it away from me.”
Still incredulous,Julie says,”All you can possibly get from Alec is money – he’ll give you that.”
And then Maida reveals all, “If Alec gave me every cent he had,that still wouldn’t be enough. Some day his father is going to die…..”
Mrs.Walker gasps and Maida spins round, “She wants to keep me out.”
Calmly Mr.Walker tells her, “Maida, you might as well take what you can get from Alec because you wont get anything from me.”
The shattering silence is broken by the nurse coming in and saying that Alec is asking for Julie. She and the parents go in and Maida just stands there as the door closes on her.
Phew! What a scene and so perfectly played by Kay and Carole.
Kay, full of ice and Carole full of warmth.
It all sounds very melodramatic, and it is! But played by Lombard and Francis,it’s terrific!
Knowing how Hollywood loved to recycle, I’m surprised IN NAME ONLY wasn’t remade in the 1950’s – it would have fitted Douglas Sirk, but it wouldn’t have had these two great actresses – and Mr.Grant.
This post is my entry in the ….AND SCENE blogathon hosted by Sister Celluloid – who in January 2015 reviewed IN NAME ONLY and said,
“Francis prowls through the part of Maida with a velvety ruthlessness that makes you cringe even as you stand back in awe.”
Do check out the other entries of favourite scenes at http://sistercelluloid.com