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"In Name Only"

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Character's Name: Alec Walker
Release Date:  August 18, 1939
Director: John Cromwell
Studio:  RKO Radio
Running Time: 94 minutes

Cast: Cary Grant (Alec Walker), Carole Lombard (Julie Eden), Kay Francis (Maida Walker), Charles Coburn (Mr. Richard Walker), Helen Vinson (Suzanne), Katharine Alexander (Laura), Jonathan Hale (Dr. Gateson), Maruice Moscovich (Dr. Muller), Peggy Ann Garner (Ellen)

The picture may also have been released under the title: 
'The Kind Men Marry'

- by Zoë Shaw
Maida marries Alec for his money. Alec falls in love with Julie. He asks Maida for a divorce but she says no. Maida schemes to save the marriage in order to hold onto the family money. Alec falls ill with pneumonia, and Julie is the one who pulls him through it. Maida realizes she has lost the battle.

- by Aileen Mackintosh
Alec Walker (Grant) is married to Maida (Francis), a woman who is only after position and wealth. One day Alec meets widow Julie Eden (Lombard) - a commercial artist, and falls in love with her. He asks Maida for a divorce so that he can marry Julie. Maida says yes, but in reality she is scheming to save her marriage ONLY so that she can hold onto his money. However when Alec falls dangerously ill with pneumonia it is Julie who is the one he calls out for, and the one that can save him. At this point, Alec's parents discover the real Maida.

I like this movie. Cary Grant as usual is great and Kay Francis is delightfully venomous as the scheming Maida. The scene with the drunk is one of the more light hearted moments. The character of Suzanne adds that touch of spice as Maida's friend and all round stirrer! But the ending is really effective as we see Maida left in the outer room and the door shuts slowly on her - shutting her out from Julie and the Walkers as it were. Go get this movie!!

VARIETY Film Review - August 9, 1939
- by "Char"
- submitted by Barry Martin
'In Name Only' will get maximum playing time and the best dating the country offers, being a late summer release that has all the elements of audience appeal, together with three star names in Carole Lombard, Cary Grant and Kay Francis as strong convincers.  Where played, it will carry the full burden of responsibility and shoulder it.

A novel by Bessie Breuer, 'Memory of Love,' forms the basis for the wholly capable production turned out by George Haight from Richard Sherman's fine adaptation.  The story is a romantic drama of a familiar but highly poignant brand, relieved by smart comedy lines and touches.  It is sophisticated, adult material which has been handled in a very intelligent manner and, among its attributes, enjoys suspense up to the final footage.

Many happy elements combine to make this one of the best pictures of the year, not the least of these being Haight's superior production, the inspired direction of John Cromwell, Sherman's trenchant dialog and the performances of a skilled cast.  The meat of the love story, with its attendant drama and tension, its tenderer love passages and blasé qualities, has an important complement in the wholly natural but swank comedy touches, supplied both by dialog and action.

An even pace is set all the distance, with no particular hurry suggested, although there is much to do while the 94 minutes unreel.  The ending, however, is more abrupt than is looked for, in view of the pace established by deliberately well-planned direction and script, with Cary Grant left on a hospital bed to recover, according to all expectations.

Story plays Grant in a stubborn vein against the knowledge that Miss Francis nabbed him as one does a mackerel, with the action at times appearing to make Grant somewhat unreasonable in his bitterness about the whole thing.  This reflects also in his attitude toward his parents.

The difficulty of breaking up the fortune-hunting marriage so that Grant and Miss Lombard may get hitched, carries the film through the majority of its running time.  While intriguing the interest at every turn, maintaining a good grip on audience appreciation, the failure of a better showdown concerning the marriage or a divorce cannot be ignored.  In the steering of the story, however, Cromwell has made every situation as believable as could be accomplished in order to sustain the dramatic undercurrent, strife and the beleaguered romance which has developed.  The strokes by which the decks are cleared for consummation of this romance are deft, careful, well-timed and highly effective for the purposes of the finish.

Grant and Miss Lombard emerge highly impressive.  Grant figures in some of the comedy relief but Miss Lombard is almost entirely on the romantic drama side, turning in a fine performance.

As the mercenary wife, Miss Francis does well, shading her role well.  She does not photograph as well here, however; makeup, mayhaps, somewhat a fault, unless the idea was to make her less glamorous than she has been in the past.

The supporting players are topped by Charles Coburn, as Grant's father; Helen Vinson, doing a vicious society gossiper, and Katharine Alexander, as Miss Lombard's sister.  A kid actress, appearing on the screen for the first time, is Peggy Ann Garner.  She has some sweetness but lacks polish, doing her lines very deliberately and suggesting that air of unnatural action which too frequently is the fault of kids following adult coaching.

In his brief hospital scene, Maurice Moscovich turns in an exceedingly impressive effort as a physician with a foreign accent.  

NEW YORK TIMES Film Review - August 4, 1939
- by Bosley Crowther
- submitted by Barry Martin
Love and the eternal triangle are subjects toward which the movies have never been particularly averse, but upon which they have generally discoursed with prudent caution and romantic bubble-blowing. For this reason - this and the fact that love is more than just a smoke raised by the fume of a scriptwriter's sighs - it is particularly gratifying to encounter a film which does unblushingly tackle the hackneyed theme of husband, wife and other woman, which acknowledges by tactful implication a few of the facts of life, which penetrates with poignant directness into the reality of emotional torment and which permits the "other woman" a contrived but satisfactory victory. Such is the especial grace of "In Name Only," the new Cary Grant-Carole Lombard love story, now at the Music Hall.

No one can expect a film to probe much deeper than that into the chemistry of love or into the social conventions which frequently cause its embarrassment, what with the Hays code and such. So an occasional cliché or recourse to symbolic maneuvering can readily be forgiven. There is enough of the reticence, the slightly skeptical exaltation and the frightening, lonely despair which are usually experienced by mature lovers in this picture to give it superior quality. And it is magnificently done.

The story, as remarked, is no bombshell. Alec Walker, played by Mr. Grant, is a Connecticut squire married to a heartless wife, who hooked him for his money and position. When he meets and falls in love with Julie Eden (Miss Lombard), a widowed artist, he asks his wife to divorce him and she agrees to go to Paris to do so. Confident of her word, Alec and Julie prepare for their life together. But the wife prolongs her stay in Paris, causing Julie understandable anguish, and finally returns home (on Christmas Eve), without a divorce and without any intention of getting one.

Further, this vicious wife threatens to sue Julie for alienation of affections and to drag her young daughter into court as a witness if Alec attempts to divorce her. So Alec and Julie agree to part and the situation is wholly intolerable - until a convenient illness and a sick-bed crisis permit a happy solution.

On the face of it, that sounds pretty bleak. But you don't let it prejudice you. The story, while obvious, is thoroughly convincing, thanks to the "natural" attack which John Cromwell has taken upon it and to some delightfully pleasing dialogue. Mr. Grant is in top form as the done-wrong-by husband who - unlike the husband in Bessie Bruer's original novel - is a thorough gentleman, a surpassing wit and a charming fellow withal. Miss Lombard plays her poignant role with all the fragile intensity and contained passion that have lifted her to dramatic eminence. Kay Francis, on the other side of the fence this time, is a model cat, suave, superior and relentless. And a generally excellent cast contribute in making this one of the most adult and enjoyable pictures of the season.   

- by Kathy Fox

IN NAME ONLY is Cary Grant's 34th movie and his third movie with Carole Lombard, the other two being SINNERS IN THE SUN in 1932, and THE EAGLE AND THE HAWK in 1933. This is a dark melodrama, revealing the loveless marriage between Alec Walker (Cary Grant) and Maida Walker (Kay Francis). Alec meets Julie Eden (Carole Lombard) one day when he is out horseback riding. They are immediately attracted to one another, but Alec does not reveal to Ms. Eden that he is married. Julie Eden's husband had passed away earlier, leaving her with a daughter. This story shows how one woman will go to any lengths to keep her rich husband, and it is sad, because Maida has pulled the wool over Alec's parents' eyes, and they believe that she is the exemplary daughter-in-law. Maida promises to get a divorce when she accompanies Alec's parents to Europe, but she is lying and has no intention of getting a divorce ever. In the meantime, Julie wants to break it off with Alec because she can no longer stand not being able to marry him because the divorce is taking too long. Finally Maida's plans not to divorce are found out and Alec on Christmas Day goes on a drinking binge, catches pneumonia and almost dies. In the end, Maida loses because Alec's mother and father find out what kind a woman she truly is. This film was not a success at the box office, and was said to have wasted the talents of two screwball comics, Grant and Lombard. Lombard was given the salary off $150,000 and top billing. Grant complained and armed with his success in GUNGA DIN, his salary was raised to $100,000. RKO had purchased IN NAME ONLY as a vehicle for Katharine Hepburn before she become "box-office poison," and Lombard heard about the role and wanted a project because her husband, Clark Gable, was off filming GONE WITH THE WIND. Of course, we all know that Carole Lombard's great career was cut short when she was killed three years later in a tragic plane accident in 1942 upon returning from a tour where she was promoting U.S. Government War Bonds. Gary's self-confidence is beginning to show as he moves further into his great career.

THE WASHINGTON POST Film Review - August 31, 1939
- by Nelson B Bell
- submitted by Renee Klish

Triple-Star Cast Gives New Film Brisk Interpretation

A closely woven succession of events, excellent acting and adroit direction serve to refurbish a familiar theme in the thoroughly diverting and, at times, moving screen play that inaugurated its Washington engagement in RDO-Keith's Theater last evening at 5:45.  Were the word "Wife" prefixed to the title, a complete index would be afforded to the theme of this expertly contrived comedy-romance that cloaks the antiquity of its triangular story in new dressings of humor, gayety and high spirits, only occasionally shot through with the deeper emotions.

"In Name Only" points out with some asperity precisely what complications can be brought into the lives of true lovers and those nearest them by an acquisitive, mercenary and vengeful wife, who refuses to divorce her husband in order that he may wed an honest and respectable young woman, with no predatory instincts whatsoever, whom he has met by merest chance.  The wife's shrewd and shrewish plans are heartily furthered by another catty young wife who is her "best friend," albeit not above poaching a little on Alec Walker's time, interest and patience on her own account.


Maida Walker, after perceiving that she is getting nowhere rapidly is holding the counterfeit "affection" of the man she married solely for his money - and who knows it - accompanies his parents to Paris on the promise to secure a divorce in the quietest possible manner.  She has no intention of doing any such gracious thing, but prolongs her absence beyond all reasonable length for the kindly purpose of giving Alec and Julie Eden, the mother of a small daughter who would make an interesting witness in court, ample rope to "hang themselves."  It somehow doesn't work out quite that way, although Alec has to come down with a terrific attack of pneumonia and struggle for breath in an oxygen tent to prevent it.  The revelatory bedside scenes are the ones that pay off Maida in something considerably better than her own coin.

A familiar plot, yes, but, as I have said, one which, in this instance, has been given new life and new zest by the deftness of Richard Sherman's adaptation of Bessie Breuer's novel of "Memory of Love" and the manner of its enactment.  The blithe mood in which the play has been written is taken full advantage of by Carole Lombard, Cary Grant, Kay Francis and their associate players, led by Katherine Alexander, Nella Walker, Charles Coburn, Peggy Ann Garner, the precocious Washington child actress, and numerous others.

First honors, by all means, I should say, go to Cary Grant for so thoroughly natural, honest and amusing a portrayal of the central male character.  His performance adds further proof that he rapidly is becoming one of the most facile and most reliable of the cinema's male stars, Carole Lombard, as Julie Eden, the young fashion artiste, shares the comedy scenes with Grant on his own footing.  She is as assured, as spontaneously natural and as convincing as he is.  Kay Francis, on the other hand, finds scant outlet for any sense of humor in her assignment to the subtly treacherous part of Maida Walker.  She is as velvety and disarming a menace to domestic happiness and tranquility as ever clawed a friend .  Helen Vinson, long absent from the local screen, as Suzanne, conceals a comparable nature less skillfully beneath a thin veneer of polished gush.

The supporting roles of prime importance are interpreted with characteristic skill by Charles Coburn, as the elder Walker; Nella Walker, his wife; Katherine Alexander, as Laura; Jonathan Hale, the family physician and counselor, and Maurice Moscovich, as his learned consultant.  Their joint psychiatric ministrations finally bring order and a "happy ending" out of the chaos projected into their lives by Alec's frustrated wife.

LOS ANGELES TIME Film Review - August 26, 1939
- by John L Scott
- submitted by Renee Klish

'Awful Truth' Is the Kind That Pleases

"In Name Only" is the type of picture that ladies love to sniffle over.  You see, the "other woman" becomes the sympathetic character and the wife, who just married the dear boy for his money, turns into a real villainess.  It's all very poignant but the males in the audience are due to get a chuckle out of the eternal triangle in reverse.

"In Name Only" opened yesterday at R.K.O.-Hillstreet and Pantages Hollywood theaters to full houses, about 75 per cent women.  They suffered ecstatically along with Carole Lombard and Cary Grant, who couldn't get married because Cary's wife wouldn't like it.  Wives are funny that way.

Bessie Breuer's novel, "Memory of Love," served as a basis for the production.  Richard Sherman, screen writer, retained the intrinsic points.  Performances are of a high order. 


Miss Lombard, who weeps right convincingly when she wants to, portrays the young widow (with a small child) who falls in love with the handsome Mr. Grant after a casual meeting on the banks of a stream and subsequent picnics.  When she discovers he is a married man, she shoos him away, but he comes right back and convinces her that his wife (Kay Francis) has not taken him for better or for worse, but for his money and social position.

Love usually finds its way, but in this case the wife, shrewd and calculating, plays every trump card she possesses to keep her meal ticket.  In fact, Grant has to almost die of pneumonia before Miss Lombard takes the final trick.


Miss Lombard and Grant have more dramatic roles than usual, and only occasionally do their individual comedy characteristics shine through.  Just enough, one might say, to relieve the hokum generated.

John Cromwell direct the R.K.O. feature with his usual deft touch.

Kay Francis, in a most unsympathetic role, gives a fine performance.  It is a difficult job well done.  Charles Coburn, Helen Vinson, Katharine Alexander, Jonathan Hale, Maurice Moscovich, Nella Walker, Peggy Ann Garner and Spencer Charters leave little to be desired as supporting players.

Click here to read Susanna's review of "In Name Only"

Click here to read Jenny's Crackpot Reviews at the Cary Grant Shrine

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