The Divorce of Lady X

The Divorce of Lady X is a 1938 British colour romantic comedy film made by London Films; it stars Merle Oberon, Laurence Olivier, Ralph Richardson and Binnie Barnes. It was directed by Tim Whelan and produced by Alexander Korda from a screenplay by Ian Dalrymple and Arthur Wimperis, adapted by Lajos Bíró from the play Counsel's Opinion by Gilbert Wakefield. The music score was by Miklós Rózsa and Lionel Salter and the cinematography by Harry Stradling.[3]

The Divorce of Lady X
Film poster
Directed byTim Whelan
Produced byAlexander Korda
Written byGilbert Wakefield (play)
Lajos Bíró (adaptation)
Ian Dalrymple (scenario)
StarringLaurence Olivier
Merle Oberon
Binnie Barnes
Ralph Richardson
Music byMiklós Rózsa
Lionel Salter
CinematographyHarry Stradling
Edited byL.J.W. Stokvis
Color processTechnicolor
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
  • 15 January 1938 (1938-01-15)
Running time
92 minutes
CountryUnited Kingdom
Budget$500,000[1] or £99,000[2]

The film was made in early three-strip Technicolor and is a remake of the 1933 film Counsel's Opinion, also from London Films and in which Binnie Barnes appeared in the role played by Merle Oberon.[4]


Leslie Steele, a guest at a ball at the Royal Park Hotel, is forced to stay overnight there because of thick London fog. As no rooms are available, Miss Steele talks her way into sharing a suite with Everard Logan, a handsome though somewhat stiff lawyer. All his efforts to oust her are to no avail and she even ends up talking him out of his pyjamas.

The next morning, they have breakfast together. She tells him only her Christian name, Leslie; the night before she led him to believe she was married. He insists they must meet again. While he's out of the room, dressing, she bolts, and is picked up by her family's butler.

At home, where she lives with her grandfather, a judge, while her parents are India, Miss Steele queries him about Logan and tells her grandfather she's going to marry him. She also learns that Logan will be in her grandfather's court that day.

At Logan's office, an old school friend, Lord Mere, arrives and asks Logan to represent him in a divorce case against his wife, who had also been stranded at the hotel. The story his friend tells of his wife matches what happened to Logan in every detail. Logan defends Lady Mere, until he learns Lord Mere is her fourth husband, the previous three being very declasse.

Miss Steele attends her grandfather's court that day to observe Logan in action and sees him rip a woman to shreds. In his office he interviews the Lady Mere's maid, who saw Lady Mere and the man she was with, terrified she will recognize him. Then Miss Steele shows up, and Logan rants at her about what he thinks is her past life; she plays along and he confesses to loving her, and they kiss. He immediately panics and runs back into his office and insists on hearing all the details of Lady Mere's marital career from her maid. He agrees to take the case.

Logan meets Miss Steele at a nightclub and begs her to marry him once he obtains "her" divorce. As they dance he queries her about her four husbands. They leave the club and she makes an appointment to see him at his office. At home, she tells her grandpa about the evening, and he tells her that her deception may backfire on her when Logan learns the truth.

Lord Mere shows up at Logan's office and tells him the divorce is off. Logan is disappointed, thinking his chance at love is gone. Once Lord Mere gets home his wife tosses him out when he questions her story. At his club, Lord Mere ponders Logan's parting words, "Tell your wife she's the most wonderfully clever woman in the world". Drunk, he calls Logan at 3 am, insisting he explain the comment.

Logan tells Lord Mere that he's "the man from the Royal Parks Hotel." Lord Mere is amused, and gives his blessing. At home, he also gives his blessing to his wife.

The next morning Miss Steele and Lady Mere arrive simultaneously at Logan's office. After they both simultaneously claim to be Lady Mere, Miss Steele drags Her Ladyship off to the beauty shop, where the learn the whole story from each other. Lady Mere calls Logan, but it's Miss Steele who invites him to Mere Hall. After some doubts he accepts.

At Mere Hall, Logan arrives too late to ride out with the rest, but encounters Miss Steele and begs her to leave with him, but she rides off. That afternoon at tea, he is introduced by Lady Mere to "Miss Leslie Steele" and turns away in disgust at her deception, while her grandpa laughs.

At the cost of abandoning an important case, he flees the country, but she manages to board the same ship, finds him, and insists, rather than eloping to Paris with her, he must return and argue the case, which he does, brilliantly.


Critical reception

The reviewer for Variety wrote, "Alexander Korda’s Technicolored comedy is rich, smart entertainment," and also praised the acting: "Oberon impresses. Olivier does his role pretty well, retarded somewhat by an annoying bit of pouting business. Two key performances which sparkle are those of Ralph Richarson and Morton Selten."[5] whereas more recently, Leonard Maltin called the film a "Cute but extremely dated screwball comedy,";[6] and the Radio Times found the whole thing "quite a daft and inconsequential way."[4]


  1. "The Divorce of Lady X (1938) - Notes -". Turner Classic Movies.
  2. Karol Kulik, Alexander Korda: The Man Who Could Work Miracles, Virgin 1990 p 209
  3. "The Divorce of Lady X (1938)".
  4. "The Divorce of Lady X – review - cast and crew, movie star rating and where to watch film on TV and online". Radio Times.
  5. Staff, Variety (1 January 1938). "The Divorce of Lady X".
  6. "The Divorce of Lady X (1938) - Overview -". Turner Classic Movies.
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.