NOTE: This post contains spoilers. Read with caution if you’ve never seen the film and would like to remain un-spoiled!
Robert Lenhart (Paul Lukas) is a book publisher whose business is in financial trouble. He owes over $20,000 to various creditors, and he’s asked for so many extensions that the creditors refuse to even meet with him. They send a representative to his office, asking him to begin paying the money back at a rate of $5,000 per month.
Lenhart’s issue is this: he refuses to publish anything but respectable, well-written literature, while only saucier novels are making money. To meet the debt repayments, he’ll have to do some careful cost-cutting.
Mrs. Lenhart, Eve (Helen Vinson), is unhappy when asked to slash her spending… but she finds a solution in the form of Felix Shaw (Ralph Forbes), a wealthy man with whom she’s been having an affair.
The life of the moralistic publisher begins to mirror the Jean Oliver romance novels he hates so much in 1935’s Age of Indiscretion. The film was directed by Edward Ludwig and along with the above-credited cast features Madge Evans, May Robson and Catharine Doucet.
There are many threads to the story of Age of Indiscretion: infidelity, family abandonment, business struggles, love triangles, divorce, and even a high brow-vs.-low brow culture battle.
Despite all of these aspects of the film, the story feels very simple. The pace is quite slow, and just about every step the plot takes is predictable. Eve gets what’s coming to her, remaining unhappy even when she’s “solved” her money problems by re-marrying to a wealthy man. Robert, on the other hand, finds happiness, keeping custody of his son and striking up a romance with his devoted secretary.
Though predictable, the film is a sweet watch — a nice way to pass the time, watching good things happen to good people. A little custody dispute is thrown in to up the drama factor. While gripping in the moment, the use of this subplot isn’t totally successful. Anyone who has ever seen a film before will see past that drama to the impending happy ending.
Age of Indiscretion is a much more pleasant and sentimental film than the title suggests. This would be a great watch for the Christmas season. The score: 3/5