The Woman Between (1931) Poster

(II) (1931)

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Lily Damita Appeals to Fathers and Sons But Not Daughters
alonzoiii-113 October 2013
Lily Damita, a successful businesswoman and pre-code hottie, is married to OP Heggie, aging millionaire, who can't bring himself to admit his luck. When a passionate young man woos her, despite the wedding ring, how will poor Lily escape the scandal of being THE WOMAN BETWEEN?

Fans of pre-code will likely enjoy this, as it features the slightly tawdry soapy plot and the well dressed (right down to their underthings) women these things often have. The hard life a woman who has married money, but wants to be loved for herself (and not her hotness) and respected has been movie fodder for years, and the familiarity of the goings on, experienced in 30s dress, provides the fascination in this movie. The main question -- which does not quite get answered -- is whether OP Heggie is quite as oblivious as he appears. What's also noteworthy is that, for once, one of those bratty daughters of society gets precisely what she deserves (rather than the male lead).

Worth finding and catching.
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One for Lili Damita and O.P. Heggie fans!
JohnHowardReid30 April 2014
Warning: Spoilers
One of my favorite films, this one has an outstanding cast led by Lili Damita and O.P. Heggie. Although Lili is mainly remembered today (if she is remembered at all) as the spouse of Errol Flynn (1935-1942) – she was also married to director Mike Curtiz for a year or so (1925-1926) – she was not only a very beautiful lady but a fine actress, as this film amply demonstrates. Normally any player would meet their match with the charismatic O.P. Heggie, but Lili is the dominant figure here and it is only in the last scenes that Heggie finally gets his chance to seize the reins. The rest of the players – with the exception, of course, of Halliwell Hobbes who makes the most of his brief appearances as the butler – put up a bit of a struggle but Lester Vail as the surly son is easily outclassed, as is Miriam Seegar, Anita Louise and even Blanche Friderici. Nevertheless, all contribute magnificently to the film which moves at such a rapid pace under the inspired direction of Victor Schertzinger and is so attractively photographed (J. Roy Hunt) and set (Max Rée – who also designed the moodily lavish costumes) that it is impossible to take our eyes off the screen for even a few seconds. Based on a seemingly unproduced stage play (well, it was not presented on Broadway, that's for sure!) by Irving Kaye Davis. Available on an excellent Alpha DVD.
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Move Along, Lady
boblipton15 May 2019
After Lester Vail's mother died, his father, O.P. Heggie told him he was marrying again. Lester headed out and spent a decade or so knocking around the world. He's headed home, and on the voyage, he has an affair with Lili Damita, who he suspects is married. When he gets home, there she is, his stepmother.

It's one of those improbable soap-opera plots in which the heroine suffers. Miss Damita asks her husband why he married her. To my way of thinking, he should ask her, but the question never seems to come up, only her suffering. Meanwhile, I'm wondering if O.P. Heggie is going to get it in the neck.

Miss Damita sings a chanson adequately, for no clear reason, Miriam Seegar has the face of an angel. I'd like to think that improbably plotted weepers like this are why Miss Damita retired early. Her line readings are too slow and uncertain. Clearly she -- and her character -- are speaking in a second language, and the audience has a tough time understanding her words, let alone her thoughts.
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It's easy to see why Lily Damita never became a big star.
MartinHafer11 July 2015
If you mention the name Lily Damita today, you'd probably find few people that would remember her. Some, like me, would remember that she was one of Errol Flynn's wives. But very, very few would remember her as an actress. This is because she never made that many films--and this probably was because she was a terrible actress. Now it might not have been entirely her fault--after all, English clearly was not her first language. And, in the 30s and 40s, Hollywood was trying again and again to replicate the Garbo appeal by hiring a wide variety of European vamps--most of which were not particularly good--and she was just one of many such actresses. But when you see "The Woman Between", the limitations of her talents are clearly demonstrated.

Damita plays a woman who is torn between her loving husband and her husband's estranged son who she met on a cruise. Not knowing who she was, she fell for him and plans on running away with the younger man. Now her is where it gets weird--even when the two young lovers realize the score, they STILL plan on running away...sort of like a reworking of Oedipus!

So why do I give the film a 3? Well, due to Damita's performance and most everything else about the movie, I was planning on giving it a 1 or a 2. After all, Damita mostly stares into the camera and does a great impression of a woman suffering from Diverticulitis! The other actors are often quite bad (particularly the whiny daughter) and there is a lot of very sloppy exposition in the beginning of the film--where friends explain, very rapidly, the back story in an incredibly unnatural and awkward manner. However, the husband (O.P. Heggie) was quite good--too good for this thankless film. I liked his performance.
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Weak Pre-Coder
mackjay225 June 2019
A weak entry in recent home video issues of rarely seen pre-code titles. The soap-opera plot is not unusual, but it's poorly handled by the direction and by the lackluster cast. In spite of Lily Damita's starring credit, she's not very good--perhaps it was the language issue, or maybe she just wasn't into the silly plot, or maybe she couldn't really act, at least based on this film. In any case, she can't carry the film, nor can the other actors. THE WOMAN BETWEEN has appeared in a set with much better movies. You can probably skip this it.
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Just a Little "I Love You" Will Solve Everything!!
kidboots17 January 2015
Warning: Spoilers
The Lili Damita of the silents was vivacious, lively and high spirited but once sound came along no studio seemed to know what to do with her and she quickly found her niche being cast in French versions of popular movies, a way for studios to capture the European market in those early sound days.

There was even a French version of "The Woman Between" but unfortunately Lili wasn't in it - it was someone called Jeanne Helbling. Don't really agree with the other reviewer about this being a top film, I haven't seen Lili Damita in many movies but there was no hint of a sparkling personality here. Even though a smart businesswoman, her Julie seemed to be down and defeated before the movie starts. She has just returned from a cruise and has been swept off her feet by Paul (Lester Vail, who made even fewer films than his look alike Paul Page) in a ship board romance. She returns to hostile opposition from Doris (Miriam Seegar) her stepdaughter, and eagerness from John, her much older husband (O. P. Heggie doesn't cut a particularly dashing figure and looks like he would be just as happy with a cardigan and slippers)!!! She just wants a whispered "I love you" but John can't believe his luck at capturing such a young bride and leaves Julie feeling unsatisfied with her lot.

The whole family is keenly awaiting the return of long lost son Victor who had gone off in a huff after learning his father was to marry a younger woman. Doris has already lined up ethereally pretty but vacuous Helen (Anita Louise) as her future sister-in -law. But Victor turns out to be Paul - and the romance continues hot and heavy until even daffy Helen realises she is not in the picture!!

All through the film Julie has a wet blanket personality - even the song she is given "Close to Me"(written by the film's director Victor Scheztinger, who also wrote popular songs) sounds like a dirge - which makes the ending so strange!! It seems just a little "I love you" plus her own little villa on the Riviera will solve everything and obliterate Paul from her memory - or will it??

Anita Louise was so "other worldly" beautiful and she seemed to grow up so fast. In "Millie" she played Helen Twelvetree's innocent daughter, next movie she played empty headed socialite eager to wed in "The Woman Between".
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