Riptide (film)

Riptide is a 1934 American pre-Code romantic drama film starring Norma Shearer, Robert Montgomery and Herbert Marshall, written and directed by Edmund Goulding, and released by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Theatrical release poster
Directed byEdmund Goulding
Produced byIrving Thalberg
Written byEdmund Goulding
Ben Hecht (uncredited)
Charles MacArthur (uncredited)
StarringNorma Shearer
Robert Montgomery
Herbert Marshall
Mrs. Patrick Campbell
Music byHerbert Stothart
CinematographyRay June
Edited byMargaret Booth
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • March 30, 1934 (1934-03-30)
Running time
92 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$1,741,000[1]

The film was released a few months before the Production Code was enforced. This film had a noteworthy appearance by Mrs. Patrick Campbell, a famous stage actress known for her friendship and correspondence with playwright George Bernard Shaw and her creation of Eliza Doolittle in Shaw's play Pygmalion.[2][3]

Plot summary

Lord Rexford (Herbert Marshall) leaves his American wife, Mary (Norma Shearer) at home while he travels on business to America. During his absence, Mary travels to the Riviera to visit Lord Rexford's aunt. There she runs into an old flame, Tommie (Robert Montgomery)—a good-time, heavy-drinking sort—and he ardently pursues her, eventually drawing her into a compromising situation that causes scandalous press coverage. Upon his return, Lord Rexford is furious. His inability to believe Mary's explanation, as well as the continued presence of Tommie, quickly drives a wedge between husband and wife.

Rexford becomes cool towards Mary at home and avoids her, even waiting until she has left the nursery before entering to say goodnight to their young daughter. Seeking to escape the tension at home, Mary eventually goes out with friends, and Rexford uses the occasion to ask her for a divorce. When she tries again to explain, he tells her that her behavior no longer matters.

After learning from a friend that Mary was largely blameless in the incident, Rexford changes his mind and sends a telegram begging her forgiveness, not knowing that his abandonment of Mary has at last driven her into the arms of Tommie. She tries to conceal this belated infidelity as they reconcile, but soon admits the truth when Tommie asserts that he has a claim on her. Rexford is furious again; this time she asks for the divorce. Mary plans to return to New York, refusing any settlement and sadly renouncing custody of her daughter and all claims. While approving the final agreement, she refuses to say goodbye to her daughter, as a last meeting would be unbearable to her. As she leaves, Lord Rexford asks her to return to him, and as they happily reconcile, their little girl bursts into the room and embraces her parents.


Box office

The film grossed a total (domestic and foreign) of $1,741,000: $1,023,000 from the US and Canada and $718,000 elsewhere. It made a profit of $333,000.[1]


  1. The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles, California: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study
  2. The American Film Institute Catalog Feature Films: 1931-40 by The American Film Institute, c.1993
  3. The AFI Catalog of Feature Films: Riptide details,; accessed August 9, 2015.
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