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A Notorious Affair

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A Notorious Affair
Directed byLloyd Bacon
Written byContributing writers:
Forrest Halsey
Lillian Hayward
Earle Roebuck
Screenplay byJ. Grubb Alexander
Based onFame (1929 play)
by Audrey and Waverly Carter
Produced byRobert North
StarringBillie Dove
CinematographyErnest Haller
Edited byFrank Ware
Music byCecil Copping
Distributed byFirst National Pictures
Release dates
April 25, 1930 (NYC)
May 4, 1930 (US)[1]
Running time
70 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States

A Notorious Affair is a 1930 American pre-Code drama film, produced and released by First National Pictures. It was directed by Lloyd Bacon, starred Billie Dove, and featured Basil Rathbone and Kay Francis.[2][1] The film was adapted from the play Fame, which was written by Audrey and Waverly Carter.

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Lady Patricia (Billie Dove), a London socialite engaged to another aristocrat, shocks her father and social class by marrying the poor Italian violinist Paul Gherardi (Basil Rathbone). Countess Olga Balakireff (Kay Francis), a vamp who likes to fool around with men below her station, takes an interest in Gherardi, as well. Unbeknownst to Patricia, Balakireff uses her influence to make Paul famous and, in return, ensnares him in an affair. The double strain of fame and deceit causes Paul to suffer a collapse at Balakireff's house. Dr. Pomeroy (Kenneth Thompson) is sent for; he happens to be one of Patricia's former lovers. Pomeroy has Paul taken home, where Patricia quickly uncovers the facts. The Gherardis separate. While Dr. Pomeroy ardently courts Patricia, Paul cohabits with Balakireff in the South of France, until she has had her fun and leaves him. Paul then suffers a paralytic attack. Patricia and Dr. Pomeroy take Paul to a surgeon for an operation, and Patricia stays at her husband's side to nurse him back to health. After a month, Paul still seems to have made no progress. He cannot move his finger. Paul tells Patricia that he knows that she wants to leave him for Pomeroy but that a divorce from a paralyzed man would be impossible. “I will always be lying here between you,” he says. Pomeroy examines him and after he leaves the room, Paul moves his arms. Pomeroy and Patricia say goodbye forever, and after Pomeroy drives away, Patricia hears the sound of Paul's violin. He has, in fact, been fully recovered for a month. She is overjoyed that the operation was a success. He has just discovered that his heart was paralyzed, too, with fame. Perhaps we are both free now, she says. He sets her free to go to Pomeroy. It must have taken more than mere selfishness for him to lie motionless between her and her happiness, she says. He laughs at himself for being a melodramatic coward. How could he expect to hold her with pity? he asks. When love was all that was necessary, she replies. They step to the window, gazing into each other's eyes, and embrace.



Leonard Maltin gives the film two out of four stars, commenting, “ Plush production can't save this stagy soap opera.”[3]

Although Billie Dove was supposed to be the star, The New York Times reported that in spite of “lending a decorative presence, her speeches pale beside a performance of one so expert as Mr. Rathbone. Kay Francis, too, as the scheming countess, puts Miss Dove somewhat in the shade” .[4]


The film survives intact and has been broadcast on television and cable. A print is held by the Library of Congress and it is also in the Turner Library.[5]


  1. ^ a b c A Notorious Affair at the American Film Institute Catalog
  2. ^ American Film Institute (1997) The American Film Institute Catalog Feature Films: 1921–30 p. 555. ISBN 978-0-520-20969-5.
  3. ^ "A Notorious Affair (1930) - Overview -". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  4. ^ "'A NOTORIOUS AFFAIR' GIVEN.; New Talkie at the Strand Features Basil Rathbone as Violinist". The New York Times. April 26, 1930. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  5. ^ American Film Institute (1978) Catalog of Holdings The American Film Institute Collection and The United Artists Collection at The Library of Congress

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This page was last edited on 22 August 2022, at 05:18
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