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The Divorcee
Rotogravure poster
Directed byRobert Z. Leonard
Written byNick Grinde
Zelda Sears
John Meehan
Based onEx-Wife
1929 novel
by Ursula Parrott
Produced byRobert Z. Leonard
StarringNorma Shearer
Chester Morris
Conrad Nagel
CinematographyNorbert Brodine
Edited byHugh Wynn
Music byJack Yellen
Milton Ager
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • April 30, 1930 (1930-04-30) (United States)
Running time
84 minutes
CountryUnited States

The Divorcee is a 1930 American pre-Code drama film written by Nick Grindé, John Meehan, and Zelda Sears, based on the 1929 novel Ex-Wife by Ursula Parrott. It was directed by Robert Z. Leonard, who was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director. The film was also nominated for Best Picture, and won Best Actress for its star Norma Shearer.[1]

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Ted, Jerry, Paul, and Dorothy are part of the New York in-crowd. Jerry's decision to marry Ted crushes Paul. He gets drunk and drives, causing an accident that leaves Dorothy's face disfigured. Out of guilt, Paul marries Dorothy. Ted and Jerry have been married for three years when, on the evening of their third anniversary, she discovers that he has had a brief affair with another woman. Ted tells Jerry it did not "mean a thing". Upset, and with Ted away on a business trip, Jerry spends the night with his best friend, Don. Upon Ted's return, she tells him that she "balanced our accounts", withholding Don's name.

Ted is outraged, and they argue, which ends with Ted leaving her and the couple filing for a divorce. While Jerry turns to partying to forget her sorrows, Ted becomes an alcoholic. Paul and Jerry run into each other, and she discovers he still loves her and is willing to leave Dorothy, with whom he is in a loveless, resentful marriage, to be with Jerry. They spend two weeks together and plan for a future together.

Dorothy comes to speak with Jerry at her home but Paul is coincidentally meeting Jerry for dinner and the three have an awkward exchange. Despite good arguments from Paul, Dorothy’s desperation not to lose him forces Jerry to reevaluate her decision to leave with Paul. Ultimately, Jerry admits she regrets giving up on her first marriage. She decides to see if her husband will reconcile, disappointing Paul bitterly a second time.

Weeks later, on her third attempt to locate Ted in Paris, Jerry finally finds him at a New Year's Eve party. After a polite exchange, Ted expresses his regret at how he reacted before the divorce. Jerry tells Ted her true feelings, and the two kiss at midnight to begin the new year, and presumably their new lives, together.



MGM production head Irving Thalberg bought the rights to Ex-Wife in the summer of 1929. Thalberg's original choice for the role of Jerry was Joan Crawford.[2]

Norma Shearer, Thalberg's wife, originally was not in the running for the lead role in The Divorcee because it was believed that she did not have enough sex appeal. Only after Shearer arranged a special photo session with independent portrait photographer George Hurrell, and Thalberg saw the result, did he relent and give her the role.[3]


The Divorcee was released on DVD by Warner Home Video on March 8, 2008 (along with A Free Soul, also starring Norma Shearer), as one of five pre-Code films in the "TCM Archives - Forbidden Hollywood Collection, Vol. 2" DVD box set. Other movies with the same title were released in 1917, 1919, and 1969.[citation needed]


Norma Shearer won the Academy Award for Best Actress. It was also nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Writing.


  1. ^ Thise, Mark (2008). Hollywood Winners & Losers A to Z. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 197. ISBN 978-0-879-10351-4.
  2. ^ Fleming, E. J. (2008). Paul Bern: The Life and Famous Death of the MGM Director and Husband of Harlow. McFarland. p. 146. ISBN 978-0-786-43963-8.
  3. ^ Wayne, Jane Ellen (2003). The Golden Girls of MGM: Greta Garbo, Joan Crawford, Lana Turner, Judy Garland, Ava Gardner, Grace Kelly, and Others. Da Capo Press. p. 51. ISBN 0-786-71303-8.

External links

This page was last edited on 17 April 2024, at 07:42
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