1931. Metro-Goldwyn Mayer
Directed by Clarence Brown.
Screenplay adaptation by Lenore Coffee, from the play, The Mirage, by
Photography, by Oliver T. Marsh.
Release date: November 29, 1931.
Running time: 76 minutes.
CAST: Joan Crawford, Clark Gable, Wallace Ford, Skeets Gallagher,
Frank Conroy, Marjorie White, John Miljan, Clara Blandick.
An employee in a box factory, Marian Martin (Joan Crawford), determines
to make a better life for herself, and resolutely refuses the proposal
of Al Manning (Wallace Ford), a cement worker in the same factory. She
runs away to New York, where a friend, Wally Stuart (Skeets Gallagher),
introduces her to Mark Whitney (Clark Gable), a wealthy young lawyer
who has a political future. After several engagements, Mark realizes
he is in love with Marian, proposes to her and they are married. She
insists, however, that it be kept a secret until she can educate herself
to fill the position of his wife in the proper manner.
The night they are to announce their marriage, Travers (Frank Conroy),
the man responsible for a large part of Mark's political success comes
to their apartment. He tells Mark it must be kept secret for at least
another month because Mark is being groomed for a political job of great
importance and their enemies will start a whispering campaign against
him concerning the sudden marriage. Mark says he is through with politics
and that his wife's happiness comes first. After Travers leaves, Marian
refuses to let Mark sacrifice his career and pretends that she has been
insincere in her love and plans to marry Al Manning, now a successful
contractor. Mark believes her, tells her to go and takes up the political
campaign for governor.
At a large rally some hecklers interrupt Mark to ask about Marian, and
he is so shocked he can make no defense. But Marian, who is in the audience,
rises and makes a wonderful speech, insisting she is not in his life
any more and that he belongs to the people, and turns the murmurs of
disapproval into a rousing demonstration of good will. She rushes out
of the auditorium during the uproar, but Mark finds her on the street,
takes her in his arms and says he might win and he might lose, but whichever
way it goes, it will be with her.
Film Daily: This man, Gable, that we've been watching for little
over a year has come a long way from his villain roles. His performance
suggests that he may become a solid actor. A personality he already
is; but so much talent - . . will take him a good deal farther than
just good looks.
Variety: Gable again is the stiff, cold-blooded, manly leading
man. Since graduating from gangster parts he has failed to register
any strong emotion. Happy or sad, it's always the same Gable. Only when
the script calls for a snarl or for him to slap Miss Crawford in the
face, to calf her a 'little tramp and, to tell her to scram, did anything
register on the Gable horizon. One Variety sobbie said that in Gable's
face there is cruelty. So maybe that's what they like.
Mordaunt Hall, The New York Times: Through Clarence Brown's
able direction, handsome settings and fairly well written script, Possessed
is gratifying entertainment. . - - Miss Crawford adds another excellent
performance to her list and Mr. Gable delivers a performance that is
My Review: A wonderful Crawford/Gable picture.
Their love story is very believeable. I read somewhere that they shoot
this movie at the height of their affair. No wonder they show such affections
in the movie. The story is so sarcastic. A young working-class girl
headed to New York and met a rich lawyer. She later became his Mistress.
It's sort of a slap on the face for the working girls. No matter how
much brains Crawford has, she still has to rely on a man to become rich
and be successful. In this case, she meets a guy who falls in love with
her, but in essence, it points out the irony of the Crawford dream.
Movie Mirrors: In this adaptation of Edgar Selwyn's play The
Mirage a poor worker goes to New York and finds a wealthy lawyer, who
will not marry her.
Cement-worker Al Manning (Wallace Ford) wants to marry factory-worker
Marian (Joan Crawford); but wanting a better life, she turns him down.
A rich man on a train gives her champagne and his address in New York.
Tipsy, she argues with Al and then goes to New York, where the man turns
her out. She manages to meet the wealthy lawyer Mark Whitney (Clark
Gable). She says she is looking for a rich man, and he invites her dinner.
Three years later Marian is ordering food in French and commanding
servants, but Whitney does not want to marry her because of the scandal
of his first marriage. She's had three years of precious gifts and happiness,
pretending to be the divorced Mrs. Moreland. At a party she is embarrassed
when a married rich man brings his mistress. Marian knows all the reasons
why Whitney won't marry her. She says coldly, "A woman can do anything
and get anywhere as long as she doesn't fall in love." Al calls
on Marian and tells her in contracting he has increased the investment
of the money Marian has been sending her mother. Al gets turned down
by Marian again, but Whitney promises him a letter of recommendation
for the government contracting job. Al tells Whitney he hopes to marry
Marian, and she takes Al to Coney Island.
In Whitney's apartment Marian overhears some men ask Whitney to run
for governor, but he must give up Mrs. Moreland. Whitney says he plans
to marry her; but they do not like that idea, suggesting he marry her
off to someone else. So Whitney declines to run. Marian pretends to
come in from outside and asks for the rules of conduct for employees.
Whitney asks her to marry him, apologizing for making her suffer for
his previous bad experience. Marian tells Whitney that she never loved
him, and she is going to marry Al. Whitney does not believe her, calls
her a tramp, and tells her to get out. She leaves and cries. Whitney
runs for governor, and Al and Marian decide to marry until she tells
him the truth. Al says he doesn't want her but panics when he realizes
he may lose the contract. Whitney gives a campaign speech on prison
reform. Leaflets are dropped asking, "Who is Mrs. Moreland?"
Marian stands up to say that she is nothing to him now and walks out,
crying. In the final scene Whitney goes to her and embraces her.
This story shows the double standard that disgraces single women more
than single men for a love affair. Conflicts between love and ambition
and also between different social classes are explored.