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MGM. 74 minutes. US release: 9/1/34.
VHS release: 12/11/91.
Warner Archive DVD release: 3/23/09.
Cast: Joan Crawford (as "Diane Lovering"), Clark Gable, Otto Kruger, Stuart Irwin, Una O'Connor, Marjorie Gateson, Akim Tamiroff.
Credits: From the story by Edgar Selwyn. Screenplay: John Lee Mahin. Producer: Hunt Stromberg. Director: Clarence Brown. Camera: George Folsey. Costumes: Adrian. Editor: Robert J. Kern.
Plot Summary: Joan Crawford is at her most glamorous (a different outfit and hairdo in each scene!) in the romantic melodrama Chained. Crawford plays Diane Lovering, the mistress of prominent Manhattan businessman Richard Field (Otto Kruger). Though she really isn't in love with him, she feels obligated to marry him when he divorces his wife (Margaret Gateson) for Diane's sake. By the time the divorce is final, Diane has fallen for wealthy South American rancher Mike Bradley (Clark Gable), but, out of loyalty to Field, she abruptly cuts off her relationship with Mike, who does his best to hide his pain. It looks as though both Diane and Mike will continue to suffer stoically until the plot is resolved by the understanding and remarkably generous Field. Clarence Brown's glossy direction helps to make this star vehicle seem more important than it really is. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide
Total Gross: $1,988,000 ($732,000 profit)
Notes: Initially titled "Sacred and Profane Love," which was changed due to Code considerations.
September 1, 1934
"Chained," which has as its leading lights Joan Crawford and Clark Gable, is a handsome production, with fine views of steamship travel and others of ranch life in South America. Miss Crawford adds to the general attractiveness of the scenes of this Capitol offering by an unusually extensive wardrobe and a variety of changes in her coiffure. But, when it comes to weighing the merits of the story, it must be said that it is just another suspenseless triangle.
So long as Miss Crawford and Mr. Gable are in a picture, it is as inevitable as the coming of night that the characters they impersonate will not be disappointing in the end. The only real surprise in this tale is concerned with the manner in which the producers are going to get rid of Miss Crawford's screen husband, Otto Kruger. And although this is managed in course of time, little can be said in favor of the logic in the somewhat abrupt turn of events.
Richard Field (Mr. Kruger), a fabulously wealthy steamship owner, is desperately in love with Diane Lovering. It happens, however, that he is married, and his wife refuses at the time to sue for a divorce. For some reason or other, Diane goes on a voyage to Buenos Aires and on the vessel she encounters Mike Bradley. If it is not a case of love at first sight, partly because Diane is still loyal to Field, it soon develops into a passionate romance. Eventually the time comes when Diane has to return to New York and, to complicate matters, Field's wife has obtained a divorce, leaving him free to marry Diane. With a sigh of gratitude, Diane becomes Mrs. Field and she lives in luxury. But the spectator knows that it is only a question of a few scenes before Bradley will turn up in New York and Mr. Field is going to be the victim of another divorce action. He is, however, a kindly soul who, being twenty years older than Bradley, apparently thinks that it is only natural that youth will be served.
Miss Crawford gives a facile performance and Mr. Gable is as ingratiating as ever. Mr. Kruger makes the most of his scenes and Stuart Erwin struggles with some absurdly feeble comedy.
On the Capitol stage the performers include Phil Spitalny's "musical ladies," the Chester Hale dancers, Eleanor Powell, Sheila Barrett, Lucille Page and Vivien Fay.
Richard Watts, Jr., in the New York Herald Tribune (1934):
May I say that although I expect the film to make a million dollars for its producers, it seemed to me just an earnest camera treatment of a snappy serial in one of the dressier sex magazines.... Since the picture didn't even attempt to go in for credibility, no one should blame Miss Crawford or Mr. Gable for failing to give real portrayals to their romantic roles. The two stars, who certainly know their business, wisely decide to pass their time tossing charm and personality all over the place, which is obviously what the film requires for audience appeal.
Howard Mandelbaum in Bright Lights Film Journal (1997):
Watching Chained is like flipping through a 1934 issue of Vogue. Perhaps "flip" is the wrong word, since it is directed by the sluggish Clarence Brown. The film's dramatic flow is constantly interrupted by self-conscious entrances whose sole purpose is to parade startling fashions. Also overpowering are Cedric Gibbons' gleaming white sets, which are too sleek for habitation. Whenever Chained gets bogged down in empty talk and false nobility, a battery of eye-popping Crawford close-ups are inserted. Those sculptural facial planes, when magnified, are meant to numb us into submission.
If you've seen Chained and would like to share your review here, please e-mail me. Feel free to include a photo of yourself to accompany your review, a star-rating (with 5 stars the best), as well as your favorite lines from the film.
Michael Lia (August 2010)
Rating: of 5
This is a really sweet movie and MGM has all the gloss intact with many layers of fabric and moonlight with fresh sea air. The stars, Joan Crawford and Clark Gable, are completely satisfied with each other; it does not matter if there is a script on hand (no one cared about the script!) They are totally ingratiating.
This film, directed by the underrated Clarence Brown, guided the stars and really just filmed an expose of their affection for each other and their physical and spiritual chemistry.
They are at their peak in beauty and being and that is all one has to look at, as well as the happiness they radiate. The scene where they are walking around the deck should be used in every film retrospective because it is charming. Audiences of the time must have loved the on-board pool scene -- your favorite stars in their bathing suits! I would imagine this would have been a fun movie set to be on as well.
I may not pick this film off the shelf first, but when I do watch it I am left with a mild content feeling, like sipping one vodka on the rocks -- ahhhhh, my smile will remain fixed on my face and no sea sickness!
Mr. Mayer, the producer ( The Women) and the writers, along with our pal Adrian, really did keep the focus on the stars; while they are supported by some great reliable actors, no one comes close to taking any camera time away from Miss Crawford and Mr. Gable. It is just a happy night at the movies with your two favorite stars. They provide a natural high.
a wonderful does come close with his bits of comedy, but even he is unnecessary in the final reel, though I always like having him around.
Otto Kruger, also very competent and professional, played his role for the stars and did not mind giving them the screen and the script. His wife, played by is there with some strong characterization, but her role too is retired. I do like her voice and tone when she was on the screen, however.
I have to mention Una O’Connor; she is much understated, but she does get to flash a few glances at the “goings on,” and Miss Crawford was lucky to add her to her roster of character actors she got to appear with.
George Folsey, the cameraman, kept the focus on Miss Crawford’s face and how we thank him for that; he was truly one of the artists working in the MGM factory.
When you are in the carefree mood for a happy love triangle (yes there is such a thing), see this film and you will have a good night 's sleep.
Jon Denson (November 2009)
Rating: -1/2 of 5
Forget the plot, as it's the typical 1930s love triangle. You've seen it all before, probably, but Clarence Brown adds his usual sure touch, and the plot unfolds satisfyingly.
Crawford is at her most beautiful and glamorous in the role of Diane Lovering. Each scene is like part of a fashion show, with Crawford modeling the latest and greatest of 1934 fashions by Adrian. She is given the full MGM star treatment here, a la Garbo or Shearer. It was said that this was the film in which the cinematographer, and Joan, learned of the lighting which produced what we recognize now as the face. The viewer can certainly tell in the stunning closeups.
Gable is again playing dashing, robust, virile, and has plenty of clever dialog. It's not a standout role for him, but Crawford and Gable always create plenty of sexual chemistry to keep the viewer interested.
Overall, CHAINED is an entertaining film, thanks to gorgeous art deco sets, costumes, fine performances by the entire cast, and the usual Gable-Crawford chemistry. The big stars, sex, and glamour manage to carry a fairly routine script.
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