Susie Schmidt (Loretta Young), Martha Karenye (Janet Gaynor), and Yoli Haydn (Constance Bennett) are three young women who have rented an apartment together in Budapest. Susie is a chorus girl, Martha works several odd jobs, and Yoli is a model.
On move-in day at their new apartment, the women share their wishes. Susie wants to own a hat shop, like the one she used to work in, and free herself from the troubles of dating. Martha wants a good home, and to build a family. Yoli simply wants a rich husband who can buy her a large house and many furs.
Sometimes dreams are realized, and sometimes they aren’t — something that these women are about to learn, while being romanced by Count Karl Lange (Tyrone Power), John Bartlett (Paul Lukas), and Dr. Rudi Imri (Don Ameche).
Edward H. Griffith directs 1936’s Ladies in Love, based on a play called Three Girls by Ladislaus Bus-Fekete. In addition to the above-credited cast, the film features the talents of Alan Mowbray and Simone Simon.
Ladies in Love tells a type of story I love to watch — a story of girlfriends/roommates adventuring their way through life. Similar tales of apartment-sharing can be found in How to Marry a Millionaire, Three Coins in the Fountain, and several other films.
A film of this type requires a stellar cast of stars and Ladies in Love certainly has that, with Janet Gaynor, Loretta Young, and Joan Bennett sharing the screen in the roommate roles. The differences in the three characters go beyond just their differing hopes for the future. The women are delightful to watch as a trio, and individually.
But the film on the whole is not quite a delight. It has its light and fun moments, but gets a bit darker in the second half. I do like the fact that the ending is unexpected, going against what you’d expect if you’d seen as much as a handful or less of Hollywood romance in the past.
But the path to get to that ending could have been more successful with either more drama, or more laughs. The story could have made for a great pre-code drama, exploring the women’s lives in a very frank manner, or for a great screwball comedy!
To the viewer’s disappointment, Ladies in Love is neither funny enough nor emotional enough as would be required for a truly memorable film. Still, I do think it’s worth a watch for the cast and that against-the-norm ending.