Anna (Irene Dunne) lives in a company-controlled mining town, where she’s just married steelworker Jim Stanley (Charles Bickford). Anna dreams of getting out of the mill, so she runs a boarding house, saving up money for a better life.
When Anna’s friend Joe (Eric Linden) creates a permanent dye out of the steel mill’s waste products, they both see an exciting chance to change their lives for the better. Jim is initially resistant of the idea of using his and Anna’s savings to go into business with Joe, but he eventually agrees, and it pays off… big time. Wealth finds the Stanleys and Joe, but at what cost to their happiness?
J. Walter Ruben directs 1933’s No Other Woman. This melodrama is based on the 1916 Eugene Walter play Just a Woman, also filmed as a silent in 1925.
Running at just under an hour, No Other Woman is a brief film, and it feels short… but its stars make the most of their screen time. Irene Dunne in particular gives a strong, sincere performance in the type of role she was known for before becoming the queen of the screwball comedy with Theodora Goes Wild, The Awful Truth, and all of her other delightfully less-dramatic pictures.
On a less-positive note, the story here is nothing too new.
After leaving the mining town and winning their riches, the Stanleys hit a rough patch in their marriage, Jim stepping out on Anna with a woman named Margot (Gwili Andre). A courtroom divorce drama ensues.
At one point in the film, Anna wonders aloud whether the family would have been better off staying at the mill. The viewer can’t help but wonder the same — Would the film have been better if they’d stayed at the mill? — as the story follows the usual trajectory of cheating -> divorce court -> weepy reunion. The issues of the business, lightly touched on in scenes between Bickford and Linden, may have made for a much more interesting film. Better yet, why not make the film all about Irene Dunne running a mill-town boarding house?
Still, I did enjoy watching No Other Woman. Dunne’s performance, as mentioned above, is certainly worth tuning in for. There are also a few very tense moments in the courtroom scenes and a beautifully-executed montage. It’s not a great film, but a decent watch. The score: 2.5/5