Lady with a Past (1932): Pre-Code Romantic Comedy, Starring Constance Bennett as Scandalous Lady, Heartbreaking Vixen

Lady With a Past is Pre-Code romantic comedy, starring Constance Bennett as a shy and proper young lady who decides to invent scandalous past for herself to spice up her life.

Lady with a Past
Lady with a Past FilmPoster.jpeg

The tale is based on the novel of the same name by Harriet Henry.

Although she is an heiress, Venice Muir is very shy. She is flattered when flirtatious Donnie Wainwright urges her to elope to Paris with him, then irked when he abandons her before their ship departs.

Resourceful Venice gets an idea: She hires penniless Guy Bryson to pretend being a gigolo and spread word of her alluring impact on all men. Soon she is the toast of Paris, suitors lining up to woo her, including Rene, a man of noble lineage.

Unbeknownst to her, Rene is in serious debt. When she rejects his proposal, Rene commits suicide, enhancing Venice’s reputation as heartbreaking vixen.

Sailing back home, Venice is followed by more gossip. A dazzled Donnie pursues her again, and finally wins her over without knowledge of her ruse.

The movie was a commercial flop and RKO declared a loss of $140,000.


Constance Bennett as Venice Muir
Ben Lyon as Guy Bryson
David Manners as Donnie Wainwright
Don Alvarado as Carlos Santiagos
Albert Conti as Rene, the Viscomte de la Thernardier
Merna Kennedy as Ann Duryea
Astrid Allwyn as Lola Goadby
Don Dillaway as Jerry
Blanche Friderici as Nora (as Blanche Frederici)
John Roche as Carl Howe
Cornelius Keefe as Spaulding
Nella Walker as Aunt Emma


Directed by Edward H. Griffith
E. J. Babille (assistant)
Screenplay by Horace Jackson, based on Lady with a Past, 1931 novel by Harriet Henry
Produced by Charles R. Rogers
Edited by Charles Craft

Production and distribution companies: RKO Pathė Pictures, Inc. Charles R. Rogers

Release date: February 19, 1932

Running time: 80 minutes
Budget $541,000
Box office $595,000



TCM showed this movie on August 22, 2022.