Rod Deane (Gene Raymond) is in love with a nightclub singer, Abby Fane (Carole Lombard). He’s taking her home to meet his family soon, since he’s convinced he wants to marry her…
…but his family, wealthy society folks, might not take too kindly to their golden boy marrying a woman of a lower class. Despite his parents’ protests, Rod and Abby marry, honeymooning in Europe.
When they return to the States, Abby finds that life with Rod isn’t all she thought it would be, as he’s content to keep living the party life on the monthly allowance still afforded to him by his parents. She values hard work, and wants them to earn their own living.
Can Rod and Abby make it work, despite all of the family drama and their very different views of the ideal lifestyle?
Brief Moment was written by Edith Fitzgerald and Brian Marlow from a play by S. N. Berman. The film was directed by David Burton.
“No breeding, no poise, nothing!,” Rod’s family complains upon learning that his relationship with Abby is serious. The family is very judgmental of Abby for her profession and upbringing, but of course, their wealth doesn’t make them angels. Rod is an alcoholic party boy (sort of what we in the 21st century would call a “permateen,” haha), and his parents have issues of their own. Hypocrisy abounds.
Abby is a better person than any of ’em and has more class in her pinky toe than the entire family, combined! She’s a genuine sweetheart, an easy character to root for. The contrast between her and Rod (and his reputation-obsessed family) is emphasized thoughtfully throughout the film.
Lombard’s performance plants the viewer even more firmly on her side. She’s very sincere and natural, making it easy for the viewer to sympathize with her and care for her.
Beyond Lombard’s performance and the well-carried-out personal dramas, there was another element of the film I enjoyed: the character of Steve (Arthur Hohl), and his relationship with Abby. He stands up for Abby, but the film doesn’t spin off into a stereotypical love triangle. It’s pretty clear throughout the film that he’s in love with her, but he isn’t pushy about it. He and the film respect the fact that Abby doesn’t feel the same.
Brief Moment is an interesting little drama of marital issues and class divisions, anchored by a strong, heart-tugging Carole Lombard performance. It’s not a five-star film for me, but I enjoyed it and would recommend it if this type of plot typically interests you (or, if you’re simply a fan of Ms. Lombard).