Kept Husbands


Drama / Romance

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Rotten 25%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Spilled 25%
IMDb Rating 5.8/10 10 620 620


Top cast

Dorothy Mackaill as Dorothea 'Dot' Parker Brunton
Joel McCrea as Richard 'Dick' Brunton
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
698.84 MB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 16 min
Seeds 14
1.27 GB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
1 hr 16 min
Seeds 23

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by lawprof 7 / 10

A Pristine 1930s Hollywood Morality Play

"Kept Husbands" from 1931 predates the emergence of the Catholic Legion of Decency and its strangulating code of social correctness. Still, it's hard to imagine the censors would have had much trouble with this morality play of virtue tempted and temptation rejected.

A very young Joel McCrea is Dick, a former collegiate football hero now working as a "steel boss" for the Parker Steel Company. Having saved several workers from death, he's invited by the company's president, Arthur Parker, to dinner at a mansion replete with fawning servants and a guest list that reflects the idle rich class that Parker's daughter, Dot, worships.

Fear that Dick wouldn't know how to use dinner utensils fades as his sports past is revealed. Dot resolves to get him to propose within four weeks and her dad shakes hands with her, sealing both her resolve and his grudging acquiescence to his beloved daughter's whim.

Actually Dot proposes to Dick, he accepts and he's then co-opted into her world of aimless affluence, expensive purchases and vapid friends. And globetrotting with dad's seagoing yacht as transport.

Dick is, later rather than sooner, a man of steel and he rebels. Dot skirts with but clearly doesn't succumb to the seductive and booze-driven blandishments of an old friend, a moth-eaten roue in a tux. That's important: other films of the time frankly show or strongly imply adultery but at the starting gate Dot bolts from the race and runs back to a suspicious and now rejecting hubby.

As with many films from a much earlier Hollywood, there is an angelic mom, here Dick's, and she gives the now conscience-stricken Dot some sage advice: "All husbands are kept." Go forth, she gently intones, and redeem your marriage.

Guess the ending.

"Kept Husbands" is a period piece. But aren't there still marriages based on one spouse's financial dominance over the other? Joel McCrea is a young and convincing fellow determined to make his way in the world without unearned advantages. And little known today Dorothy Mackaill is very effective as an empty pleasure seeker who awakens to the hope of a deeper future based on love than her fur and jewel bedecked younger life has given her.

The film's class issues seem comical and are familiar to us today. I wonder how Depression-era moviegoers reacted to the display of unearned conspicuous consumption.

If early Hollywood social attitudes interest you, see this film (available now on DVD).


Reviewed by mark.waltz 7 / 10

He may have the brawn, but she has stronger thumbs!

A dinner party with a wealthy family leads steel plant supervisor Joel McCrea into the arms of socialite Dorothy Mackaill, a spoiled young lady who at first dismisses him for being of "working class" but is obviously sexually attracted to him. Even her society friends begin to accept him when they discover he's a big college football hero who once lead his team to a big victory that has become legendary. While Mackaill's father (Robert McWade) likes McCrea very much, her snooty mother (Florence Roberts) is against their attraction and appears to have a breakdown every time Mackaill mentions him. McCrea, for his part, instantly notices one of her society friends (Clara Kimball Young) verbally abusing her husband (Freeman Wood) who came from the working class too, and when Mackaill's affections begin to distract him from work, he fears he too might become a "kept husband".

As their marriage seems to be a happy occasion with McCrea's loving mother (Mary Carr) taking an instant liking to his new daughter-in-law but McCrea's cynical friend (sour-pussed Ned Sparks) not so sure, Mackaill's real personality comes out. Having agreed prior to marriage to living off of his salary, she can't help but take him on an extended honeymoon in Europe (with McWade's money of course) and buying furs which McCrea can't afford. Returning to the states makes her motivations all the more clear when she takes up with her old society cronies, including the lecherous Bryant Washburn whom she's known all her life. She even goes as far as to try and block his taking a business trip her own father arranged, and this leads to McCrea questioning his own masculinity, leading to McWade stepping up to wake his daughter up and make her realize her selfishness is destroying her one chance for happiness.

Mackaill pulls out all the stops in showing her character's personality from her spoiled selfishness to her vulnerability and need for love from a real man to her manipulation which makes her potentially as vile as pal Kimball-Young. At times, you want McCrea to smack her, but then with Carr offering warm motherly advice, it seems other roots are necessary in order to keep this marriage intact and for Mackaill to see her husband as something other than the brawny sexpot he is and not turn him into the dog-walking husband that Wood has turned out to be. There's a very funny drunken sequence between Washburn and Mackaill (referencing "The Villain Still Pursued Her") where they play a chasing game that ultimately wakes Mackaill up to what she really wants. In the end, this isn't about the man being the breadwinner and the wife being the homebody, but ultimately, about each of them accepting the values of what brought them together in the first place and putting the other partner in their thoughts before themselves.

Reviewed by blanche-2 7 / 10

Keeping your husband - a woman's only mission in life

Yeah, as the above quote indicates, this is an old, old movie. But it's a darling one, starring Dorothy Mackaill and Joel McCrea. McCrea plays football star Dick Brunton, who now works for Mackaill's dad. Dad brings Dick home for dinner one night, which doesn't make anyone very happy - after all, they're filthy rich and he's just filthy, i.e., a working man. Mackaill can't take her eyes off of him - and who can blame her? McCrea is gloriously handsome and shy. After a month has gone by, Mackaill, a spoiled brat, has proposed marriage and bought herself an engagement ring. She tells dad they'll need $50,000 a year to live on. Since poor Dick only makes $180 a month, Dad says he'll make up the difference. Dick soon begins neglecting what little work he has to do as Vice President of the family company and starts feeling like a kept man.

There are several "kept" men in this movie, the difference here being that Dot and Dick are truly in love. Mackaill does a beautiful job of being a manipulative daughter and wife, but we're able to see the vulnerable woman underneath who finally realizes what's important in life. McCrea, only 26 here, is at his natural, adorable, hunky best.

Mary Carr gives a sweet performance as Dick's mom, the one who offers the summary comment quote. Ned Sparks is on hand with some funny lines and great delivery.

All in all, a delightful movie, if dated, though I'm sure there are still some people today who think that keeping your man is all that matters.

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