Bed of Roses (1933): La Cava’s Pre-Code Romantic Comedy, Starring Constance Bennett

Gregory La Cava wrote and directed Bed of Roses. a Pre-Code romantic comedy, starring Constance Bennett.

Prostitutes Lorry (Constance Bennett) and Minnie (Pert Kelton) get their hapless male admirers drunk before robbing them. After being released from a Louisiana jail they head down the Mississippi River on a steamboat. Lorry steals $60 from a “Mr. Smith” in her room, and confronted by the boat’s captain accusing her of theft, she jumping off into the river. She is soon rescued by cotton barge skipper Dan (Joel McCrea), but she robs him too.

Once in New Orleans, Lorry disguises herself as a newspaper writer so that she can meet publishing magnate Stephen Paige (John Halliday). She then gets him drunk, takes him to his home, and blackmails him into renting a lavish apartment for her.

She returns to the cotton barge and repays Dan his “loan” and the two fall in love. But Stephen threatens to expose her sordid past, causing to break off her engagement to Dan. Stephen cannot persuade her to return to him, as she really does love Dan, thereupon he brings about their reunion with the help of Minnie, who’s now-married.

Pert Kelton, playing a better written part replete with wise-cracks, stole the show with hip-rolling and nasal-twanging routines that recalled Mae West’s bold style.

In a few years, La Cava would go on to direct some delicious screwball comedies, such as My Man Godfrey and Stage Door, for which he scored back to back Oscar nominations.

Constance Bennett as Lorry Evans
Joel McCrea as Dan
John Halliday as Stephen Paige
Pert Kelton as Minnie Brown Oglethorpe
Samuel S. Hinds as Father Doran (as Samuel Hinds)
Franklin Pangborn as Floorwalker
Matt McHugh as “Jones”
Tom Francis as Salesman


Directed by Gregory LaCava
Written by Wanda Tuchock, LaCava, Eugene Thackrey
Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures
Release date: July 14, 1933
Running time: 70 min.

TCM showed the movie on April 24, 2020.