Thursday, January 13, 2022

THE RIGHT TO ROMANCE (Alfred Santell, 1933)


This movie is maddening. The breathy Ann Harding mopes through the first act as Dr. Peggy Simmons, a well-respected plastic surgeon who can’t get laid because her career eclipses matrimonial prospects. The good Dr. must either continue with her career or submit herself to a husband: she never considers the choice of having both. It’s an interesting story as it depicts a strong-willed and intelligent woman as a Plastic Surgeon: it could have condemned the patriarchal morality of its time through her submission yet does quite the opposite and becomes a typical women’s written by men. 

Dr. Simmons slumps her shoulders and laments her joyless lifestyle, admiring her secretary whose marriage will soon lead to a full-time employment as housewife. She takes a vacation and by chance meets the handsome son (Robert Young) of one of her elderly patients. Love and impulsive marriage ensue. Of course, she has to give up her career and lounge about their mansion until a crippled child, whom she and her cohort Dr. Heppling (Nils Asther) were attempting to cure, needs emergency surgery. Her Playboy hubby parties with his old flame while she saves the boy’s life. Then hubby crashes his plane, and his old flame is torched, so Peggy has to reconstruct her face: she keeps her Hippocratic Oath even though hubby breaks his Matrimonial Vows. She then discovers “Heppy” has always loved her and promises divorce and a life with him happily ever after. Though wealthy hubby doesn’t ask her to quit or pressure her to give up her career, it’s assumed by all involved. When she chooses to love her Dr. companion one wonders if he will make her give up her job and assume the typical role of housewife. It’s so frustrating to see such a smart and independent character accept the contemporary social hierarchy without question. Well, at least everyone lives, and the little boy will walk again. But will Dr. Simmons live or walk on her own again? 

Final Grade: (C-)