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June 2010

The Divorce Of Lady X

cast: Merle Oberon, Laurence Olivier, Ralph Richardson, Morton Selten, and Binnie Barnes

director: Tim Whelan

88 minutes (U) 1938
Network DVD Region 2 retail

RATING: 7/10
review by Alexandra Bunning

The Divorce Of Lady X

This is an enchanting 1930s romantic comedy starring British film greats during the early days of their film careers. Laurence Olivier stars as Everard Logan, a misogynistic divorce lawyer whose work has given him a very biased view of married women. He finds himself marooned due to fog blanketing London, and takes refuge in a hotel.

After checking into a suite, he is visited by the manager of the hotel, who asks if he is willing to give up his bedroom to accommodate some of the unfortunate women who were attending a charity ball at the hotel and are now likewise stranded. Everard refuses and is interrupted again only minutes later by the amusingly witty and charming Leslie Steele (Merle Oberon), who is determined not to take 'no' for an answer.

Sure enough, Everard finds himself not only cheated out of his bedroom, pyjamas, and book, but also his breakfast the next day. Rather than being infuriated, the woman-hating barrister finds himself enthralled, but before he can even find out her name, she disappears.

Later that day, Everard is asked to take the case of Lord Mere (Ralph Richardson). When he insists his wife spent the night at the same hotel with an unknown man, Everard presumes the enchanting Leslie Steele is Lady Mere, and the mischievous Leslie decides to play along.

The Divorce Of Lady X is a highly endearing romance, full of witty banter. Olivier and Oberon make a wonderful onscreen team, and Ralph Richardson and Binnie Barnes are wonderful support as Lord and Lady Mere. Morton Selten and H.B. Hallam are also well worth a mention as Lord Steele (Leslie's grandfather) and his butler Jeffries. Their altercation over Lord Steele's breakfast has an almost PG Wodehousian comedy to it, and I would have been happy to have seen more of them in this film.

Although the film is obviously a little dated, the dialogue still hits the mark, and the actors' performances are still believable and amusing. This is recommended if you're looking for some light-hearted nostalgic romance.



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