Carolyn Martin (Barbara Stanwyck) is a beautiful young woman making a good living as a model in a Milwaukee dress shop. She’s always wanted financial security, with a little money left over after the bills to buy nice things, and now she’s found it all on her own with a $50 per week salary.
Carolyn’s boyfriend Michael (Gene Raymond) is an aspiring engineer, who makes much less than his gal. His new job pays $35 per week, which to him seems more than enough for two people, with his careful budgeting.
Michael wants to marry Carolyn, but she resists because he wants her to give up her job. Will she buy into Michael’s “love over money” idea, or stick to her guns and keep modeling?
Leigh Jason directs 1936’s The Bride Walks Out.
For any fellow fans of The Mindy Project, imagine the Danny and Mindy of season four (minus baby Leo) transported back to the 1930s. That’s basically what you get when watching The Bride Walks Out. Carolyn and Michael are both stubborn, he convinced that she should give up her job and keep house on his income, she convinced that she should continue working.
Carolyn’s convictions aren’t as strong as Mindy’s, apparently, since she gives in to Michael’s wishes after much prodding. What follows is largely played for comedy, but not always successful in bringing the laughs.
Unfortunately for the film, leading lady Stanwyck has much more chemistry with would-be homewrecker Robert Young than she does with Gene Raymond as Michael. Stanwyck and Young also shared the screen in Red Salute a couple of years earlier. Young is very funny here, in his role of a suave entertainer who falls for Carolyn the moment he meets her in a courtroom. Young’s character is a little smarmy and total shameless in his pursuit of Carolyn, but he also has his charms. And since Young and Stanwyck do have that chemistry working for them, the film fails to get the viewer on board with the success of the Michael/Carolyn marriage.
Along with Young, a highlight of the supporting cast is Helen Broderick. Broderick plays the wife of Michael’s closest colleague, she and Carolyn bonding over their husbands’ shared careers. There are a few New Year’s Eve scenes with Broderick and Stanwyck playing drunk — likely to be named the film’s funniest moments by any viewer.
Some off-putting talk of wife-beating also does the film no favors. A guard in the courthouse, witnessing an argument between Carolyn and Michael just after their marriage, tells Michael that he should take Carolyn home and beat her. Later in the film, Carolyn herself tells Michael that hitting her would be “the manly thing to do,” after she’s made a mistake. Adding a bit of likability to the character of Michael, he follows none of this advice, actually socking the guard who suggested he should hit Carolyn. Gene Raymond may not have the best chemistry with Stanwyck, but at least Michael seems to be a decent fella.
When all is said and done with this Stanwyck project, The Bride Walks Out will probably rank quite low on my best-to-worst ranking of her films. It’s an okay watch, but much better can be seen from everyone involved, including director Leigh Jason, who also directed Stanwyck in the wonderful The Mad Miss Manton.