Bride Wore Red, The (1937): Typical Crawford Movie

The Bride Wore Red, directed by Dorothy Arzner, is based on the unproduced play The Bride from Trieste by Ferenc Molnar.

In this rags to riches Cinderella tale, a typical Depression era fare and Joan Crawford vehicle, the star plays a cabaret singer who poses as an aristocrat.

The Bride Wore Red was the last of seven films that Crawford and co-star Franchot Tone, then her husband, made together; they divorced in 1939.

In a Trieste gambling casino, the cynical Count Armalia (George Zucco) tells his friend Rudi Pal (Robert Young) that the only thing separating aristocrats from peasants is sheer luck.

To prove his point, he offers the a club singer Anni Pavlovitch (Crawford) money–and wardrobe–to stay at an upper class resort hotel in the Alps for two weeks and pose as his friend Anne Vivaldi, an aristocrat’s daughter.

Upon arrival, Anni meets Giulio (Tone), an amiable philosophical postal clerk, and her old friend Maria (Mary Philips), who is happy being a hotel maid, warning Anni not to become victim of one of Armalia’s practical jokes.

Anni attracts the attention of Rudi, who is dining with his fiancée, Maddalena Monti (Lynne Carver), her father, Admiral Monti (Reginald Owen), and Contessa di Meina (Billie Burke).

Hoping to lure the amorous Rudi into proposing, Anni extends her stay, while the Contessa, suspicious of her from the beginning, wires Armalia to get information about her. When the reply comes through the post office, Giulio reads it and learns the truth of her origins.  But on the way to deliver it, he meets Anni, who confesses love for him; Giulio loses the telegram when Anni stumbles and falls down.

On the evening of an annual costume party at which the hotel guests dress as peasants, Anni snubs Giulio when he offers her flowers. She still plans to marry Rudi, though, whom she has finally gotten to propose, after refusing to be his mistress.

Rudi tells Maddalena that he is in love with Anni and she steps aside. While Maria helps Anni pack, she tells her that the gaudy red beaded dress she plans to wear is what she is really like.  A whole sequence follows, in which Anni parades in that dress, in front of the mirror.

At dinner, Giulio delivers a copy of the telegram to the Contessa, who shows it to Rudi. Anni tells Rudi that he should marry his childhood sweetheart because she really is a lady.

After being comforted by Maria, Anni, unable to pay the bills, must leave the hotel.  She decides to take only her peasant costume, while Giulio is happily waiting for her.

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