Cast & Crew
Brother Nameless, an unscrupulous evangelist who claims to help the needy, is confronted by Peter Martin, who demands $5,000 for his wife, Sister Martin, who has become a member of Nameless' cult. Meanwhile, reporters Bill Raeburn and Jane Carson and photographer Jerry Little decide to do a story about Brother Nameless in the hope of exposing his racket. When their boss, Walter Wiley, runs into them, he offers his support for the article, after which they invite him to Bill's first anniversary party. At Bill's house, Wiley is shocked when he is introduced to Bill's wife Claire because he has been meeting her secretly for some time, and was unaware of her real identity. They pretend not to know each other, but Jane, who has been in love with Bill for years, is suspicious. The next day, Bill is assigned to find out information on an unidentified dead man who has turned up in the morgue. There he finds Sister Martin, who has come to see if the body is that of her missing husband. Though Sister Martin is mute, she writes one of Brother Nameless's slogans on a piece of paper and Bill realizes that he may be on to a big lead. To further his relationship with Claire, Wiley allows Bill to go undercover to work on his story and insists that Jane go with Bill and pose as his wife to make their story more believable. While they go to Brother Nameless's mission, Wiley begins to spend more time with Claire and replaces her imitation diamond bracelet with a real one that looks exactly the same. At the mission, Bill and Jane look for anything that will expose Brother Nameless as a crook and soon find a safe with money and securities confiscated from his followers. When Jerry is summoned to take pictures of the safe's contents, Brother Namesless discovers him and kills him. As he is about to do the same to Bill and Jane, Sister Martin saves them and reveals that Brother Nameless killed her husband when he tried to extort money from the phony evangelist. One year later, as Brother Nameless faces execution, Bill is assigned to witness the hanging and gets drunk in anticipation. He comes home in the afternoon and finds a vacuum cleaner repair man at his door. Because Claire is out, Bill lets the man see the vacuum and they discover that it was clogged by several cloth bags used to hold tobacco for rolling cigarettes. Wiley is the only person Bill knows who rolls his own cigarettes, and when Peggy Ryan, the daughter of a neighbor, reveals that a man who always comes to see Claire gave her ten dollars, Bill realizes what has been going on. He then goes on a drinking binge while Jane, who had secretly been aware of Wiley and Claire's relationship for some time, tells them what she thinks of them. Bill then buys a gun and, after witnessing Brother Nameless' hanging, goes to Wiley's apartment, where he he finds Claire. In a scuffle, Wiley gets the gun and tries to shoot Bill, but shoots Claire instead. While Claire recuperates from her wounds, Jane lets everyone know what really happened, despite Wiley's attempt to stop the story. Finally, after Claire has recovered comepletely, Bill tells her to go to Reno for a divorce and proposes to Jane.
Helen Jerome Eddy
Frank Du Frane
Julius Molnar Jr.
Donald Henderson Clarke
James E. Grant
Edwin B. Willis
The Women Men Marry - The Women Men Merry
Murphy never got the breaks MGM gave its two top dancing stars, Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. Where they played a major role shaping their musical vehicles and spent little time on filler projects in between, Murphy was shoved into one film after another, spending more time in low-budget flicks than big screen musicals. The Women Men Marry was assigned to him just as he had finished one of his best films, Broadway Melody of 1938 (1937). Part of the problem may have been that he really wasn't a typical MGM lead when he arrived there in the '30s. Unlike the studio's top stars then -- Clark Gable, Robert Montgomery and Franchot Tone -- he wasn't believable as either a sex symbol or a society playboy. Nor did he have the acting chops of a Spencer Tracy, who got first crack on the kind of salt-of-the-earth roles that fit Murphy best. Yet he always delivered what the studio asked of him, creating a gallery of amiable hoofers, reporters, cops and military men.
His two leading ladies in The Women Men Marry got even fewer breaks than he did. Josephine Hutchinson, who played Murphy's adoring partner, was an established stage actress when she arrived in Hollywood on tour with Eva Le Galliene's Civic Repertory Theatre. She had created the title role in the Civic Repertory Theatre's production of Alice in Wonderland, supported Le Galliene in an array of classic plays and even took some leads that normally would have gone to the company's star-manager. In Los Angeles, she rotated performances as Alice with Nora in A Doll's House, using the latter for her Warner Bros. screen test. The studio signed her and then did little with her. When she arrived, Kay Frances was Warner's top dramatic star. Within a year, Bette Davis had moved into that position. Hutchinson's best role was as Paul Muni's wife in The Story of Louis Pasteur (1936). With few comparable roles planned for her, she left when her contract ended. She clearly had the looks and the talent for stardom but it never happened, even though you can see her immense appeal in the scene in The Women Men Marry where she tells off Murphy's wife and boss; it still resonates today. Within a few years, however, she moved into mother roles, supporting bigger but often less talented female stars.
Claire Dodd, cast as Murphy's faithless wife, was a former Ziegfeld girl and protégée of Darryl F. Zanuck, though his friendship never got her the breaks she deserved. She was too smart to play dumb blondes and specialized in playing other women, which usually meant the larger, if not always more interesting roles that went to bigger stars like Bette Davis in Ex-Wife (1935) and Irene Dunne in Roberta (1935). Perhaps her most distinctive role was as Della Street in Warner's The Case of the Velvet Claws (1936), the only adaption of the Erle Stanley Garner novels in which the devoted secretary gets to marry Perry Mason (Warren William). After a few more years of thankless roles, Dodd retired in 1942 to marry and raise four children.
Sidney Blackmer, the boss who sends Murphy undercover so he won't notice his wife's cheating, is best remembered today as coven leader Roman Castevet in Rosemary's Baby (1968), but he had a long career on stage and screen during which he played Teddy Roosevelt seven times. After a decade on Broadway, he joined the caravan of stage actors journeying to Hollywood when talking pictures arrived, specializing in urbane villains, most memorably as Big Boy, Edward G. Robinson's gangster mentor in Little Caesar (1931). Blackmer moved between Broadway and Hollywood in the '30s and '40s, never winning the kind of studio backing that might have pushed him into higher profile roles. He scored his biggest hit in 1950 when he starred as Shirley Booth's alcoholic husband in William Inge's Come Back, Little Sheba, for which he won a Tony Award. But that and another great stage role, Boss Finley in Tennessee Williams' Sweet Bird of Youth, went to other actors when the plays were filmed.
Perhaps the most interesting thing about The Women Men Marry is the similarity of its romantic triangle to a better-remembered film, Frank Capra's Platinum Blonde (1931). Both involve a rough hewn reporter trapped in a marriage to a beautiful, faithless woman while his adoring co-worker waits for him to break free. Beyond the obvious fact that Platinum Blonde has been rescued from the vaults by historians and critics eager to study its director's earlier career, something about its cast has made it live in the memory in a way The Women Men Marry never could. Perhaps it's the mystique of leading man Robert Williams, whose promising career was cut short when he died shortly after finishing the film. Or maybe it's the fact that both leading ladies, faithless wife Jean Harlow and doting friend Loretta Young, were on the road to stardom. Yet Hutchinson clearly matches Young's performance, possibly even outdoing her when it's time to fight for her man, and Dodd is a much better actress than the young Harlow. Their performances alone would suggest that The Women Men Marry is worth a second look, if only as a fascinating might-have-been, an assemblage of stars just waiting to happen who never really broke through.
Producer: Michael Fessier
Director: Errol Taggart
Screenplay: Donald Henderson Clarke, James Edward Grant, Harry Ruskin
Based on a story by Matt Taylor
Cinematography: Lester White
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons
Score: Edward Ward
Cast: George Murphy (Bill Raeburn), Josephine Hutchinson (Jane Carson), Claire Dodd (Claire Raeburn), Sidney Blackmer (Walter Wiley), Cliff Edwards (Jerry Little), Peggy Ryan (Mary Jane), Helen Jerome Eddy (Sister Martin), Toby Wing (Sugar).
by Frank Miller
The Women Men Marry - The Women Men Merry
Peggy Ryan (1924-2004)
Born Margaret O'Rene Ryan on August 28, 1924, in Long Beach, California, Ryan began dancing professionally as a toddler in her parents' vaudeville act, the Dancing Ryans, and was discovered by George Murphy when she was 12. Murphy arranged for young Peggy to dance with him in the Universal musical Top of the Town (1937). She would go on to make a few more film appearances over the next few years - the most striking of which as a starving, homeless girl in John Ford's The Grapes of Wrath (1940) - yet for the most part, she was hardly noticeable apart from a few dance numbers.
Her luck changed when Universal cast her opposite another teenage hoofer, Donald O'Connor in What's Cookin'? (1942). From then on, they teamed in a series of innocuous musicals that were low on production values, but high on youthful pluck. Just check out some of their titles: Private Buckaroo, Give Out, Sisters!, Get Hep to Love (all 1942); Top Man, Mr. Big (both 1943); Chip Off the Old Block, This Is the Life, and Bowery to Broadway (all 1944). They may have not been high art, but jitterbuggin' kids loved it, and given the low investment Universal put into these pictures, they turned quite the profit.
Her career slowed down after the war. In 1945, she married songwriter James Cross, and didn't return to films until 1949, when she made two minor musicals that year: Shamrock Hill, There's a Girl in My Heart. She divorced Cross in 1952 and met her second husband, dancer Ray McDonald, in her final film appearance, a forgettable musical with Mickey Rooney, All Ashore (1953). Tragically, McDonald died in 1957 after a food choking incident, and the following year, Ryan moved to Honolulu after marrying her third husband, Honolulu Advertiser columnist Eddie Sherman. She kept herself busy teaching dance classes at the University of Hawaii, but in 1969, she found herself back in front of the camera as Jenny Sherman, secretary to Detective Steve McGarrett (Jack Lord) on the long-running show Hawaii Five-O,. She played the role for seven years, remaining until 1976.
Eventually, Ryan relocated with her husband to Las Vegas, where for the last few years, she was teaching tap dancing to a whole new generation of hoofers. She is survived by her son, Shawn; daughter Kerry; and five grandchildren.
by Michael T. Toole
Peggy Ryan (1924-2004)
The working titles for the film were My Wife and This Is My Wife. Some reviews list a preview running time of 65 or 68 minutes. According to a news item in Hollywood Reporter, when the film began production the stars had not been selected as yet, and only Cliff Edwards had been cast among the principals. Hollywood Reporter production charts include Gertrude Michael and "Suzanne" in the cast, however, their appearance in the released film cannot be confirmed.