"A woman is like a postage stamp. Once there's a black mark on her, she's no good to nobody." -- Pick.
In pre-Civil war Louisiana, two sisters live on a plantation with their slaves and their father. Gilberte, or "Frou Frou" (Luise Rainer) is the pretty and somewhat muddle-headed younger daughter, and Louise (Barbara O'Neil) is the more practical and less attractive older daughter. The young mountebank, Andre Vallaire (Robert Young), wants to propose to Frou Frou, but he is too late, as she has already decided to accept a proposal from the lawyer, George Sartoris (Melvyn Douglas). The trouble is that Frou Frou doesn't love George, but Louise does ... and Andre will not forget Frou Frou. Things come to a boil when George asks Louise to come and run the household, as Frou Frou -- a "toy wife," in his estimation -- seems incapable of doing so.
|Luise Rainer and Alan Perl|
The Toy Wife's patronizing treatment of black characters is typical of the period, unfortunately, but the film is still absorbing and has a very touching conclusion. There is first-rate cinematography from Oliver T. Marsh and a nice score by Edward Ward.
Verdict: Memorable, well-acted, and unpredictable drama. ***.