Cast & Crew
John M. Stahl
Bart Carter has given up his dreams of writing to work for a publishing company, so he can support his wife Peggy and their five children. Bart's old flame, Mildred Bronson, returns to New York, and he discovers she has been his publisher's foreign agent in Paris for the past ten years. They become reacquainted, and Mildred learns how he has sacrificed his writing for his family. During a visit to the Carter home, Mildred notices that Peggy neglects her husband in favor of her children. Soon after, Bart is instructed to report to Mildred for work, and she informs him that his boss, Bliss, has approved an arrangement by which Bart can write his novel, Seed , under Mildred's supervision, while retaining a regular salary. As the bustle of his home life is incompatible with his work as a writer, Bart writes at Mildred's apartment during the day, and often stays for dinner. Mildred and Bart soon fall in love again. One day, Mildred goes to Bart's house to announce the acceptance of his novel for publication, and while Bart is absent, Peggy warns Mildred that she cannot take Bart away from her. To encourage Bart to work at home, Peggy transforms the attic into an office and warns the children to stay quiet. The noise level is unchanged, however, and Bart loses his patience, telling Peggy that the children have cost him his ambition, hopes, youth and their love. After Bart leaves for Mildred's apartment, Peggy writes him a note, and packs up and leaves with the children, intent upon driving to a relative. She gets lost in the rain, however, and finds she has been driving in circles, finally returning home in the morning. Bart, meanwhile, finds Peggy's note and returns to Mildred, and upon professing their love for each other, they decide to go to Paris together. Bart returns home to pack a few things and is surprised to find Peggy there. Peggy tries to make light of her note, but then realizes that Mildred is waiting for Bart in the car. She informs Bart that she wants nothing from him, and he leaves. Peggy opens a shop and lives over the store with the children. Ten years later, Bart has become a renowned author, and he and Mildred return to the United States as a married couple. His children, now grown, are thrilled to receive their famous father for a visit, and he is shocked to discover their humble home, as Peggy has kept their address a secret from him until recently. Bart offers to send the children away to school, and all are delighted with the prospect except for Peggy, who feels he is taking away from her the only thing she has worked for in life. The children convince her that school is in their best interests, however, and she reluctantly watches them leave with Bart the very next day. She is left with only Mildred to console her. Mildred assures her that while she has lost her children, they will return to her, whereas Mildred, who has no children, has lost Bart to the children and has no one.
John M. Stahl
The plot is based on a studio script. While the title of Charles G. Norris's novel implies the story was about birth control, no discussion of the subject was included in the script. According to a modern source, director John M. Stahl held a prolonged search to cast the role of "Margaret Carter." He finally hired Bette Davis for the role after seeing her in the studio commissary.