is Dr. Ned Darrell, who has fallen in love with Nina Leeds (Shearer), a
free-spirited young woman who is mourning the loss of her love in World War
I. Also in love with her are family friend Charlie (Morgan) and Sam
(Kirkland), a friend of her deceased boyfriend. Sam proposes to Nina and
even though she is still heartbroken, she accepts and decides to move on
with her life. Right after their marriage, Sam's mother (May Robson) tells
Nina that she and Sam must never have a child because insanity runs rampant
in Sam's father's side of the family. She recommends that Nina give Sam a
child fathered by another man to keep him happy and never let him know the
truth. Devastated by the news, Nina turns to Ned for advice and Ned agrees
that she must give Sam a child to make him happy. Ned volunteers to sire the
child and soon they are in a passionate affair behind Sam's back. A boy is
born to Nina and Sam never suspects that the child is not his. Jealous
Charlie watches this all unfold, pining for Nina all the while. Years pass
and Nina and Ned constantly struggle with their love for each other and
whether or not to tell Sam the truth.
"Certainly, Nina." first line
"I couldn't share a woman--even with a ghost."
"You must admit that these triangular scenes
are to say the least humiliating."
"You're simply letting your romantic
imagination run away with you."
"I couldn't forget you. Other women only made
me love you more. It was always you in my arms."
"To kill happiness is a worse murder than
"You can't experiment or meddle with human
lives. But if you do, you have to have the courage to follow through."
"See here, son, there are things a man of honor
doesn't tell anyone. Not even his mother and father."
"Both our lives have been pretty futile, Nina."
Behind the Scenes Based on the popular Pulitzer Prize-winning play by
Eugene O'Neill, Strange Interlude is different from most pre-code
melodramas in that the viewer gets to hear the characters' thoughts, told in
voice-overs while the actors stand there with funny looks on their faces.
The effect was much more successful on stage when the thoughts were told as
MGM studio head Irving Thalberg (also Shearer's husband)
personally supervised the production of this film. Gable felt uneasy having
Thalberg on the set--especially while he was filming love scenes with
Shearer, who never wore any underwear.
This is the first Gable
film to feature him with a mustache, although it was a fake one applied by
the makeup department to make him look older.