The Law of Contact

Gloria Swanson in "Indiscreet" (May 16, 1931)

Gloria Swanson in Indiscreet

Released on May 16, 1931: Beautiful Gerry Trent dumps her skunk of a boyfriend on New Year's Eve and resolves to find a better sort of man. Unfortunatly, her old boyfrien just won't go away.

Directed by Leo McCarey

The Actors: Gloria Swanson (Geraldine 'Gerry' Trent), Ben Lyon (Tony Blake), Monroe Owsley (Jim Woodward), Barbara Kent (Joan trent), Arthur Lake (Buster Collins), Maude Eburne (Aunt Kate), Henry Kolker (Mr. Woodward), Nella Walker (Mrs. Woodward), Jack Byron (party guest), Jay Eaton (party guest), Adolph Faylauer (ship's passenger), James Ford (party guest), Sam Lufkin (ship's purser), Harry Watson (baseball captain).


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Gloria Swanson was one of the first true movie stars in the golden age of silent movies. But when sound was added to the movies, many of the silent stars bombed when audiences heard their voice. Not so with lovely Gloria Swanson. Her smooth voice was enchanting, and she even had a notable singing style that you will enjoy in this romantic drama with a wonderfully complex plot. But a great plot is what we would expect from director Leo McCarey, who also directed the masterful Love Affair in 1939.

In the opening scene, it is new year's eve and Gerry and her boyfriend Jim are arriving at Gerry's home, and Gerry is dumping Jim because of his infidelities to her. Although he once promised to marry her, he continues to flirt with other girls, even in front of Gerry, and she is fed up. Her New Year's resolution is to find a better kind of man, or have no man at all. Some time later Buster, her kid sister's boyfriend (Arthur Lake, who was 'Dagwood' in a series of movies in the 1940's) is coming over and wants to bring famous author Tony Blake over to Gerry's house and introduce him to her. Gerry is currently reading one of Tony's books, and is terribly excited to be meeting him. When they meet, it is love at first sight, and when he playfully tries to kiss her, she slaps him, and he gleefully exclaims that he is happy that she is a 'good girl.'

Now in 1931, a 'good girl' was a euphemism for 'virgin', and Gerry is NOT a virgin, thanks to her skunk of a boyfriend Jim that she dumped on New Year's Eve. She worries about whether to tell her new boyfriend Blake about her past, but finally she does. Blake is downcast at hearing this, because in 1931 it was perfectly proper for men to have relations with women before marriage, but not the other way around. Anyway, after some thought he determines that he still wants to marry Gerry, as long as he is in her past, and he never has to hear about Jim or meet him ever in the future.

But of course, real love in the movies cannot run straight and true, so we next find out that skunk Jim has chased after Gerry's kid sister Joan, and he has proposed to her. When Gerry finds out she tries to convince Joan that Jim is a skunk, but to no avail. Then at a party Jim comes on to Gerry, and she sees an opportunity to show her kid sister what a skunk Jim is, so she lets Jim make advances at her, and arranges for her kid sister to interrupt them so that her kid sister can see what a skunk Jim is. Her kid sister does see what a skunk Jim is, but unfortunately Tony shows up also, and seeing Gerry and Jim together, gets mad and breaks up with Gerry.

So Gerry has saved her kid sister from a relationship with a skunk, but in the process has ruined her own future with the man she really loves. Looks like all is lost and nothing can bring back Gerry's love . . . unless of course we can have one of those zany, daffy, wonderful mixed-up funny, romantic endings . . .