Bed of Roses (1933 film)

Bed of Roses (1933) is a pre-Code romantic comedy film co-written and directed by Gregory La Cava and starring Constance Bennett.[4] The picture was released by RKO Radio Pictures with a supporting cast featuring Joel McCrea and Pert Kelton.

Bed of Roses
original film poster
Directed byGregory LaCava
Charles Kerr (assistant)
Written byWanda Tuchock
Gregory LaCava
Eugene Thackrey
StarringConstance Bennett
Joel McCrea
Pert Kelton
Distributed byRKO Radio Pictures
Release date
July 14, 1933[1][2]
Running time
70 min.[2][3]
CountryUnited States

The film is preserved in the Library of Congress collection.[5]


Lorry (Constance Bennett) and Minnie (Pert Kelton) are a pair of rollickingly wanton prostitutes who occasionally get 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" she entertains in her room, and when she is confronted by the boat's captain, who accuses her of the theft, she escapes by jumping off the vessel 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 in order to meet publishing magnate Stephen Paige (John Halliday). She then gets him drunk, takes him to his home, and the next morning blackmails him into supporting her, including renting a lavish apartment for her. She returns to the cotton barge and repays Dan his "loan" and they fall in love. Minnie now arrives at Lorry's apartment, soon followed by Stephen, who threatens to expose her sordid past, causing her to leave him but not to return to Dan, whom she had agreed to marry. When Stephen cannot persuade her to return to him, he realizes that she really does love Dan, and he brings about their reunion with the help of the now-married Minnie.



The film in 1933 received generally mediocre reviews in leading newspapers and trade papers. The one consistent exception in the print media's rather lukewarm reaction to the production was Pert Kelton, whose performance was widely praised. In his review for The New York Times, critic Mordaunt Hall views the "callous creature" portrayed by Constance Bennett as initially "disconcerting", and he finds parts of the story unbelievable, noting that its "characters do not always behave as if they were drawn from life."[6] Hall, however, does recognize Kelton for doing "remarkably well as the slangy Minnie".[6]

The Film Daily in its July 1, 1933 issue judges Bed of Roses as "average entertainment" and describes Bennett as moving "through her part without any distinction."[7] On the other hand, Kelton's performance also impressed the trade paper. "She fits the hard-boiled part perfectly", The Film Daily observes, "and scores repeatedly with hearty laughs."[7] Abel Green in his review for Variety, another widely read entertainment paper at the time, refers to the "so-so flicker" as "tawdry and unwholesome in the main".[8] He too preferred to focus on Kelton:

It's a short cast but Pert Kelton stands out head and shoulders above everything with a Maywestish hip-rolling, nasal-twanging, get-your-man routine which is something of a surprise. It so eclipses the rest of it, including the star (in some of those scenes she makes a stooge out of Bennett) that it evidences an unsuspected magnanimity on the part of the star or a physical handicap which forfended any further editing. Miss Kelton...does not suggest the robust Miss West in build, other than in general demeanor. Hers is a more slinky vamp, wise cracking and ever-effective, with the choicest phrases handed to her.[8]

References and notes

  1. "RKO Radio Pictures: Bed of Roses", studio features' official release date, Motion Picture Herald (New York, N.Y.), July 22, 1933, p. 86. Retrieved March 20, 2019.
  2. "Bed of Roses (1933)", production details and release, American Film Institute (AFI), Los Angeles, California. Retrieved March 20, 2019.
  3. Slight discrepancies in the cited running time of films can often be attributed to slight variations in the projection speed of equipment at different theaters of the period. In 1933, for example, The Film Daily reports the feature's running time at 67 minutes.
  4. "Bed of Roses (1933)", Internet Movie Database (IMDb).
  5. Catalog of Holdings The American Film Institute Collection and The United Artists Collection at The Library of Congress, p. 13. Los Angeles, California: AFI, 1978.
  6. Hall, Mordaunt (1933). "Constance Bennett Appears in 'Bed of Roses,' a New Film at the Radio City Music Hall", review, archives of The New York Times, June 30, 1933. Retrieved March 18, 2019.
  7. "Bed of Roses", review, The Film Daily (New York, N.Y.), July 1, 1933, p. 3. Internet Archive, San Francisco, California. Retrieved March 20, 2019.
  8. Green, Abel (1933). "Bed of Roses", review, Variety, July 4, 1933, p. 16. Internet Archive. Retrieved March 18, 2019.
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