If you want to see Joel McCrea at the beginning of his acting career get taken in by a sassy, well-trained Dorothy Mackaill be sure to watch Kept Husbands (1931).
4 Weeks. After meeting the steel boss and former football star Dick ( McCrea), spoiled rich girl Dorothy (Mackaill) lets her father know that she’s only waiting 4 weeks- she wants to marry him and if he doesn’t ask her, she’ll ask him.
Pre-Code, this film collects everything that was good ( and bad) about being a women in the great depression. Women with money had power, charm and could do what they wanted, when they wanted. And of course when Dick doesn’t ask her ( because he is poor, respectable and just a steel boss) Dorothy asks him.
Married and on a whirlwind honeymoon that last for months, the new husband becomes very aware that all the women in the “rich girl” circle use their husbands to perform menial tasks. Fearing for his manhood he has little chance against his new wife and everything she wants for their marriage.
With ten years of film under her belt at this stage in her career, Mackaill does a magnificent job ( good enough to rival Ruth Chatterton in Female) of completely owning her man and helping him realize who is boss. McCrea approaches the role with a boyhood charm, probably indicative that this was filmed still early in his career – his third year in Hollywood- when he was still noticeably hesitating with line delivery. He is, however, also completely in character as the potentially “kept” husband.
Another freebie Classic Hollywood film on Amazon Prime, this is a great pre-code flick worthy of a place in your viewing lineup.