Riptide (1934): Goulding’s Pre-Code Romantic Melodrama, Starring Norma Shearer, Robert Montgomery,Herbert Marshall

Edmund Goulding directed Riptide, a pre-Code romantic drama, starring Norma Shearer, Robert Montgomery and Herbert Marshall.

The film was released a few months before the Production Code was enforced.


Theatrical release poster

Marshall plays Lord Rexford, who leaves his American wife Mary (Norma Shearer) at home while he travels on business to America. During his absence, Mary goes to the Riviera to visit Lord Rexford’s aunt, where she meets old flame Tommie (Robert Montgomery), a good-time, heavy-drinking guy. He ardently pursues her, drawing her into compromising situation that causes scandalous press coverage.

Upon his return, Lord Rexford can’t accept Mary’s explanation, as well as the continued presence of Tommie, which quickly drives wedge between husband and wife.

This film marked the appearance of Mrs. Patrick Campbell, a famous stage actress known for her friendship with playwright George Bernard Shaw and her creation of Eliza Doolittle in Shaw’s play Pygmalion.

The film grossed a total domestic and foreign of $1,741,000, $1,023,000 from the US and Canada and $718,000 elsewhere, generating a profit of $333,000.

Norma Shearer in Riptide


Norma Shearer in Riptide
Norma Shearer – Lady Mary Rexford
Robert Montgomery – Tommie Trent
Herbert Marshall – Lord Philip Rexford
Mrs. Patrick Campbell – Aunt Hetty Riversleigh
Richard “Skeets” Gallagher – Erskine (*as Skeets Gallagher)
Ralph Forbes – David Fenwick
Lilyan Tashman – Sylvia Wilson


Directed by Edmund Goulding
Produced by Irving Thalberg
Written by Edmund Goulding, Ben Hecht (uncredited), Charles MacArthur (uncredited)
Music by Herbert Stothart
Cinematography Ray June
Edited by Margaret Booth
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Release date: March 30, 1934

Running time: 92 minutes
Budget: $769,000
Box office $1,741,000


TCM showed the movie on January 7, 2021