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Kept Husbands


Blue collar steelworker Richard Brunton (Joel McCrea) saves two of his fellow workers after an accident at a factory. In gratitude, his boss, millionaire Arthur Parker (Robert McWade) invites Richard for dinner with his family. Arthur's daughter Dot (Dorothy Mackaill) is instantly impressed and infatuated with Richard She vows to marry him within a month.

Kept Husbands is a 1931 Pre Code American drama film directed by Lloyd Bacon, starring Dorothy Mackaill andJoel McCrea, with major supporting roles filled by Robert McWade, Florence Roberts and Mary Carr. The original story was written by the film's associate producer, Louis Sarecky, and adapted for the screen by Forrest Halsey and Alfred Jackson. Although primarily a drama, the film has many comedic touches to it. The film centers around the Class conflict and stereotypes between the working class and the wealthy, which was particularly striking during the Great Depression when this film was made. The film also points out the stereotypical gender roles which were prevalent at that time.

Plot summary

File:Joel McCrea-Dorothy Mackaill in Kept Husbands.jpg
Arthur Parker (Robert McWade) is a wealthy steel magnate who is relating the story to his snobbish wife and spoiled daughter of one of his plant supervisors who fearlessly rushed in and saved the lives of two of his fellow co-workers. When his wife, Henrietta (Florence Roberts), asks if he rewarded the young man, Parker shows his astonishment by saying that the hero had used the thousand dollars he had offered. When the daughter, Dot (Dorothy Mackaill), remarks that she would like to meet a man like that, the father tells her not to worry, she will, for he is coming to dinner that very evening. Henrietta is aghast at having to socialize with someone not of their class, but Parker, who is a better judge of character, assures her that all will be well.
During dinner, Dot is smitten with the young man, Dick Brunton (Joel McCrea). So smitten she makes a bet with her father that she can get him to marry her within four weeks, by December 20. The father takes that bet, and lo and behold she wins Dick’s heart and gets him to accept her proposal of marriage by the deadline, despite his fears of their different social circumstances.
After the wedding, Parker sends the newlyweds on an expensive honeymoon to Europe, after which they return to their lavish home, also supplied by Parker. Parker also promotes Dick, but within six months, his new lifestyle threatens to emasculate Dick, who loses interest in his career and finds himself dominated by Dot's vapid, social whirl of bridge games, cocktail parties and passive acceptance of life as a "kept husband". This does not sit well with the proud husband, and when Parker offers him a chance to prove himself with a new position in St. Louis, he jumps at the chance. When told of the opportunity however, Dot is less than enthusiastic, not wanting to leave her friends and social circle. She uses to agree to accompany Dick.
Dick decides to go to St. Louis, with or without Dot, making her incredibly upset. Not knowing what to do, he goes to ask advice from his mother (Mary Carr), who tells him that he needs to reconcile with Dot before he leaves for St. Louis. Meanwhile, Dot has agreed to meet with a former beau, Charles Bates (Bryant Washburn), who attempts to seduce her. When she returns to their house the following morning, Dick questions her regarding her whereabouts. She lies to him, and he knows it, since he had seen her with Washburn the prior evening. Furious, he storms out, saying their marriage is over, and intending to resign from Parker’s company.
Realizing her love for him, Dot eventually finds Dick at the rail station, about to leave for St. Louis. He has decided to take Parker’s position after all. The husband and wife reconcile, with Dot agreeing to live within the means that Dick’s salary can provide.


File:Dorothy Mackaill-Bryant Washburn in Kept Husbands.jpg
  • Dorothy Mackaill as Dorothea "Dot" Parker Brunton
  • Joel McCrea as Richard "Dick" Brunton
  • Ned Sparks as Hughie Hanready
  • Mary Carr as Mrs. Brunton
  • Clara Kimball Young as Mrs. Henrietta Post
  • Robert McWade as Arthur Parker
  • Bryant Washburn as Charlie Bates
  • Florence Roberts as Mrs. Henrietta Parker
  • Freeman Wood as Mr. Post
  • Lita Chevret as Gwen
(Cast list as per American Film Institute database) See Note #60, p. 143.</>
The tag line for the film was "Every Inch a Man - Bought Body and Soul by His Wife".< name=RKO></>
This film marked the debut in sound films of Clara Kimball Young, who had been a major star during the silent film era. She came back after a six-year hiatus from making films.<></>

Category:1931 films
Category:American films
Category:English-language films
Category:Black-and-white films
Category:1930s drama films
Category:RKO Pictures films
Category:Films set in Monaco
Category:Films set in Paris
Category:Films directed by Lloyd Bacon
William LeBaron

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