In the opening scene, San Francisco socialite Joyce Ramsey expresses concern about the working class background of her daughter Martha’s boyfriend Phil, and her husband David, tired of his opportunistic wife’s social ambitions, asks her for a divorce and moves out, prompting her to look back on their marriage.
Via a flashback, we learn about the couple’s humble beginnings and discover how they worked their way into the world of the nouveau riche. David is a Santa Rosa attorney with no clients, working on construction jobs with his law partner Robert Townsend to support his bride, who serves as the struggling firm’s secretary. Finding herself pregnant, Joyce schemes to land Swanson, a former factory worker with a valuable steel-making patent, as a client. She succeeds at getting him to hire David alone, and when her plot eventually is discovered, Robert quits. David is furious with his wife, but she placates him by convincing him her sole intent was to help him and their unborn child.
Back in the present, Joyce is forced to admit to her daughters their father has left her when a society columnist questions his move. She learns from a friend David has been seen with another woman and hires a private detective to investigate.
Another flashback, and David, now an executive in Swanson’s company, announces he has been transferred to San Francisco but wants to live in the suburbs. Joyce, longing for the excitement of city living, changes his mind. Eventually she meets Emily Hedges, and the two, bonded by their social-climbing aspirations, become close friends. Robert Townsend, in desperate need of $15,000, arrives at the Ramsey home to request a loan, and Joyce tells him David is away on business and she is unable to help him. Her husband learns of her lie and comes to his former partner’s aid, accusing Joyce of being callous. —Wikipedia
If Curtis Bernhardt is a relative unknown, it’s because he didn’t direct his first Hollywood feature until 1940 at the age of 41. Bernhardt worked for years in Germany until his Jewish heritage made living there impossible by 1933, making a harrowing underground escape to France after being arrested by the Gestapo. With Europe plunging into WW2, he left for America in 1939. Despite his limited grasp of the English language, he was offered seven-year contracts at both Warner Brothers and MGM, largely on the strength of Carrefour (1936), that proved so enduring that it was ultimately remade as Dead Man’s Shoes (1938) in the UK, and as Crossroads (1942) by MGM. Most émigrés would have jumped at MGM’s offer, but Berhardt went with Warner’s, favoring the studio’s reputation for hard-boiled realism. His career in Hollywood began with a false start; after working on his first assignment he fell ill and was reassigned an Olivia de Havilland vehicle, My Love Came… read more