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If I Were Free (1933) HD online

If I Were Free (1933) HD online
Language: English
Category: Movie / Drama / Romance
Original Title: If I Were Free
Director: Elliott Nugent
Writers: Dwight Taylor,John Van Druten
Released: 1933
Duration: 1h 6min
Video type: Movie
Gordon Evers, a dignified middle-aged barrister, is depressed and suicidal following an injury suffered during WWI. Sarah Cazenove, an antique dealer, is likewise depressed and suicidal due to her husband's dishonesty and unfaithfulness. Gordon and Sarah fall in love. The relationship is healing for both, but society frowns on their liaison as both are still married.
Complete credited cast:
Irene Dunne Irene Dunne - Sarah Cazenove
Clive Brook Clive Brook - Gordon Evers
Nils Asther Nils Asther - Tono Cazenove
Henry Stephenson Henry Stephenson - Hector Stribling
Vivian Tobin Vivian Tobin - Jewel Stribling
Laura Hope Crews Laura Hope Crews - Dame Evers
Tempe Pigott Tempe Pigott - Mrs. Gill
Lorraine MacLean Lorraine MacLean - Catherine Evers

The play, "Behold, We Live", opened in London on 16 August 1932.

Reviews: [10]

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    Two desperately unhappy people, both trapped in loveless marriages, meet one night by chance in Paris...

    IF I WERE FREE is a fine example of what could be done with a soap opera plot when given the advantages of excellent acting & good production values. In less expert hands the film could have easily become awkward & mawkish; instead, the viewer is given slightly over an hour of solid entertainment.

    Irene Dunne & Clive Brook are first rate as the sensible lovers who enter a relationship with their eyes wide open. Some clever scenes with sophisticated dialogue - going through her childhood books, visiting his favorite old church - makes their interaction a delight.

    Considerable contributions are also given by the supporting performers: Henry Stephenson as Brook's jolly legal friend and Vivian Tobin as his pixilated wife are very amusing. Laura Hope Crews as Brook's free spirited mother & Tempe Pigott as Dunne's Cockney housekeeper add their own style of drollery to the proceedings.

    Silent film star Nils Asther scores in the small role of Dunne's caddish husband. His celebrity had considerably dimmed with the arrival of talking pictures, but given a decent role this actor could still deliver the goods.

    Movie mavens will recognize an uncredited Halliwell Hobbes as Brook's butler.
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    If you are a romantic at heart, like me, then you'll enjoy this movie. With any other actors it might not have been as good but Irene Dunne and Clive Brook really bring this story to life and it becomes more than just your average romance. Ever since I saw Irene Dunne in Love Affair with Charles Boyer I was a fan so I was SO glad to see TCM show this in tribute to her on her birthday! I was also glad to get to see another fine performance from Clive Brook who I'd only seen in one other movie before this one. I think I'm becoming quite fond of him! ;-)

    Oh and for you silent movie fans - Nils Asther plays Irene Dunnes husband - he was SO good at playing jerks! It's a pity his career didn't last longer. Anyway - if you are a fan of romances or just the actors in this movie I highly recommend watching this the next time it's shown on TV!
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    I am for the institution of marriage and feel that nowadays many couples are too quick to quit on it; yet there are times when there are actual bad marriages where the people involved really are miserable with one another and probably should get out of it, especially if they can find someone else to be happy with; as this film demonstrates. And in the end it will only serve to strengthen the institution of marriage, not weaken it.

    Both Irene Dunne and Clive Brook are in unhappy marriages at the movie's beginning. Brook plays a character named Gordon who is married to Cathy, played by Lorraine MacLean. According to Gordon; the two realized they had made a mistake shortly after their marriage and it was understood between them that they would grant the other a divorce at any time. When we are first introduced to Gordon, his indifference to life is so great that while drinking with his friend and co worker Hector (played by Henry Stephenson) he purchases an entire stack of Paris postcards from a salesman and immediately proceeds to rip them all up; citing he might stop an American from coming here.

    Dunne, who plays a character named Sara, is actually in an abusive marriage to her husband Tono, played by Nils Asther. Tono actually points a gun at Sara on one instance. Then company comes over (Gordon, Hector, and Hector's wife played by Vivian Tobin) and when Gordon finds Tono's gun casually lying upon the sofa; Sara waves it off by saying (my favorite part in the film), "Oh, how untidy of me!" and explains her husband enjoys target practice. Later that day, Gordon stops Sara from using that gun on herself; citing the fact that he once thought of ending it all as well. The two converse; and a relationship ensues. Gordon asks Sara if she would marry him "if I were free"; and Sara says yes.

    Then the obstacles come into Sara and Gordon's relationship. Gordon can't get out of his marriage; and he tells Sara he is indeed not free. Gordon's friend Hector, realizing that their relationship is affecting Gordon's work, convinces Sara to put a stop to the relationship. Thus the relationship; while being at an early point; seems to be at an end.

    Wise men say everything happens for a reason. Even things that initially are seemingly bad have a greater purpose for the long term. For Gordon Evers; it was a bullet lodged near his heart from the war that was a curse turned into a blessing. The Doctor tells Gordon he has about a year or two to live; but an extremely risky surgery could take care of the problem. Gordon; unenthusiastic about life to begin with due to his inability to get out of his unhappy marriage, and even more distraught about his ended relationship with Sara; throws all cares aside and decides to have the surgery. He doesn't tell Sara anything for her not to worry. But when Gordon's Mother, played by Laura Hope Crews, tells Sara of her son's condition and informs her of the surgery; Sara rushes to the hospital. After Gordon awakes, he weakly calls out for Sara instead of his wife. This; along with Gordon's Mom convincing Cathy to let Sara see him; brings the two together. The last scene is the two sailing along in a riverboat, paddled by Hector, arm in arm with an engagement ring on Sara's finger.

    Irene Dunne is great as always; as many have said there's not a movie where she hasn't played a great role. She excels at playing a strong character who holds up through tough times. Dunne also gets to utilize her singing talents in this film.

    If I Were Free is a short film; but a good and moving one nonetheless. I give it a 7 out of 10.
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    I enjoyed this 1933 movie made before the censors had their hand into things. After 1934 you would not have seen this same story, the unwanted wife would have had to die or would have been a bad wife and a divorce the right thing for her husband to do. The story is rather sophisticated in that the unwanted wife is just asked to step aside so her husband's love affair could be made legitimate. Oh,they had made an agreement that if either one got tired of the other than one or the other could walk away from the marriage with no argument. Apparently the unwanted wife had had an affair earlier, it didn't work out so she wanted to hang on to what she had and not give her husband up to Irene Dunne's character. Though Clive Brock's character was diagnosed with a life-threatening problem that required a very risky surgery, the unwanted wife did not want the divorce and demanded that his lover, Dunne leave the hospital even in the face of the fact that Brock was near death and calling for Dunne and not his wife. The wife does not want to allow the visit but Dunne pushes by and goes to the dying man's bedside and her presence stimulates Brock's recovery from surgery and they are seen in the last scene as a married couple on holiday. Censors would not have permitted this to pass if done later than the mid thirties. Especially since the unwanted wife did not want or agree to the divorce when she found out that her husband was having an affair and wanted to leave her for another woman. It was a good story and I would see it again.
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    Warning: Before watching this film, you might want to give your dogs a sedative, as the sound of Irene Dunne singing might otherwise trigger them into howling fits! Yes, I know Dunne sang in such films as SHOWBOAT and ROBERTA, but never was it more piercing and high-pitched as it was here! I warned you. Fortunately, however, she doesn't sing that often.

    As for the film, it's a soap opera that would not have been likely to have been made just a year later. In 1934, a tougher Production Code was enacted. It strongly censored films and many topics that were common in the pre-Code days were either forbidden completely or were forced to be so sanitized that it's tough understanding what the film might be implying--as they could not directly address topics such as adultery, abortion, drug addiction and the like. As for IF I WERE FREE, the reason it would have been tough to make just a year later was because the main topic is adultery...AND the film excusing its two leads for cheating on their partners. Even if their spouses were terrible (like they were here), such goings on were strictly taboo least until the 1960s.

    As for the romance between Dunne and Clive Brook, it's handled in a very gentle manner. It is NOT some torrid romance or sexcapade, but two sad and lonely people in horrible marriages who gravitate together out of a need for ANY warmth and affection. As a result, you really do feel sorry for the pair--they really are married to terrible spouses and they just want to be loved. What I liked about all this is that the film lacked some of the melodrama such films might usually have--none of the sappy music or overly romantic scenes--just two people enjoying spending time together. Only later in the film does it become a bit sticky...just a bit.

    Unfortunately for the pair, there are problems with their relationship. First, Brook's wife had promised to divorce him, but now she capriciously has changed her mind and won't let go. Second, they are from different elements in society--he's from the upper classes and is a barrister while she works in an antiques shop. As a result, his friends pressure him to give her up and soon, a mutual friend (Henry Stephenson) approaches Dunne to tell him how much this is hurting Brook. What happened next came as a genuine surprise--and you'll have to tune in yourself to see what happens next.

    Overall, a good but certainly not great romance. Worth seeing, but also a bit tough to believe...particularly when Brook's mother laments to her that she wishes her son were married to Dunne and that she approved of the affair.
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    This little movie has some frank lines in it -- pre-Hayes? But the most interesting thing is that the playwright of the original play upon which this movie was based was John Van Druten. Van Druten went on to greater fame as the author of the original stage plays of I Remember Mama, Bell Book & Candle, I Am A Camera (later made into the musical Cabaret) and the long-running wartime hit play Voice of the Turtle.

    Here's the interesting thing for theater trivia buffs about this little movie: It was directed by Elliott Nugent who later went on to play the lead in Voice of the Turtle on Broadway (opposite Margaret Sullavan). And most intriguing is the last two lines of this movie are the SAME last two lines of Voice of the Turtle.

    I guess these guys thought no one would notice that they were copying themselves. Well, I did!!
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    Irene Dunne fans will probably like the film. Clive Brook is absolutely wooden. What a poor choice for Dunne's leading man.

    Brook's facial expression hardly changes, whether he's supposed to be happy or sad, whether he's speaking of his despair or whether he's making love to Dunne. His kissing is positively mechanical. He spends most of the film looking away from his fellow actors or looking down at the floor. In fact, he was much older (about 46) than his character was supposed to be (38), and he looks it.

    The plot now seems tired. The plot of a later film, "In Name Only", bears a lot of similarities to this film: (1) Man in unhappy marriage meets his "soul-mate"; (2) Wife won't give him divorce; (3) Sickness in hospital with man calling out for his paramour rather than his wife. This begs the question—which of the authors copied the other? This film hasn't aged well. Since it was made pre-code, they could have spiced this up, but didn't. There are many other films of this vintage which we still enjoy seeing today, but in my opinion, this film isn't one of them.
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    If a soap opera (romantic melodrama, if you prefer) were deprived of its intricate plot complications and convoluted relationships, what would be left? Probably something on the order of this picture, a mild, conventional story of a love affair whose development is at least honest and somewhat touching - until its resolution is brought about through extraneous matters, rather than the characters and their aspirations.

    Irene Dunne does not have quite the command of this role that she usually displays. Clive Brook offers his familiar jaded ennui (just right, if a very dry martini is your drink), and dear old Henry Stephenson once again tries to do right by everyone.

    There are assuredly worse ways to spend sixty-five minutes than with this picture, but why its producers bothered to make something so bland is not easily explained.
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    Irene Dunne and Clive Brooke find love after each loses it in unwanted marriages--she because of an abusive spouse and he because of a wife who pursues a marriage in name only. While Dunne's character Sara has the courage to stand up to and leave Nils Asther's no good Tono, Clive Brooke's Gordon seems more resigned to his fate. That is until he discovers that the new girl of his fancy loves him too. That is why this story works. Because love is lovelier the second time around, when both partners truly appreciate the fact that they have been blessed with a second chance. I love Irene Dunne in her very early, pre-Code film phase. She is so fresh faced and fun loving, especially in the scene where Brooke literally sweeps her off her feet in the churchyard and whisks her away and she says "Well, alright!". As if to say, it's about darn time you showed me how you really feel! All's well that ends well and the lovers are united in the final scene where we see them blissfully floating downstream with their erstwhile friend Hector sitting in the bow. We find out that they have indeed sealed the deal as Sara admiringly glances at her wedding ring, the outward symbol of her newfound respectability with Gordon and more poignantly as the reflection of their wedded bliss.
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    When Tono told Sara she was not a good looking woman, not the kind a man would want to be found dead in a ditch with, I thought, "Are you nuts? She is gorgeous." Who could suspend disbelief enough to see Irene Dunne otherwise?

    Someone familiar with the script can come up with Tono's exact line. I couldn't find a copy of the script online but someone else may know where to get one.

    I applaud TCM for showing what is not one of the best films ever made just to see Irene Dunne in her prime. It is great to see these great actresses when they were young. It also makes me wish I had been born decades earlier.