MGM gathered together a few of their biggest talents, surrounded them with a top-notch production crew, and updated the script a bit to add some modern pizzazz to the old war-horse. What resulted was good box-office. Hey, it's a formula!
Having not seen the original I can only comment on this remake and say that it is quite an entertaining bit of fluff. But even more impressive then the wonderful cast ( Greer Garson, Joan Crawford, Robert Taylor, Herbert Marshall, and Spring Byington ) was the set design....particularly the house of Bridget Drake, portrayed by Byington. Like most of her roles, she plays a rather dizzy woman ( but obviously not dumb since she is living in such a beautiful home ). Her boyfriend Walter converted an old water-wheel into the extravagant country retreat and, on one afternoon, she finds herself saddled with some old friends staying for the night : author Mary Howard ( Crawford ) who hopes to have a rendezvous there with her publisher/lover Mr. Woodruff ( Herbert Marshall ); Jimmy ( Taylor ) who comes to follow Mary; and Mrs. Woodruff ( Garson ) who arrives not knowing that she will be meeting her husband's mistress.
The things that go on in seemingly respectable country homes!.....Tsk, tsk, tsk.
This lovely timber-framed Connecticut-style farmhouse boasted hardwood floors, beamed ceilings, thick white stone walls, and plenty of fireplaces to keep the guests cozy on rainy nights. It just so happened to be a rainy night when Robert Taylor and Greer Garson arrive unexpectedly.
The Backyard - Or is it the front? Believe it or not that "pond" is the swimming pool, which Joan Crawford just splashed into from her perch atop a rustic swing.The driveway skirts around the pool. We are never shown the garage but there certainly is one, and it is probably where the servants quarters are, too.
Dizzy Bridget was so proud of Walter's handiwork she gave the characters a tour of her house and, since she conducted it so well, we will just follow in her footsteps and make some remarks as we pass by these beautiful rooms.
The Living Room - One of the best features of a traditional "Connecticut" style home is the sunken-living room. While it is open to the bar/kitchen and the staircases, the off-setting depth of the living space gives the room a warmer cozier feel and adds contrast.
The wrap-around sofa reminds me of the interior of a ski lodge. That's a model ship hanging on the wall. There are a number of them throughout the house. Walter must have shared a common interest in yachting with Claire Woodruff.
When it's raining cats and dogs outside, sit beside the piano and sing a duet. At least, that is what Claire and Mary decide to do. After they find out they share a love for the same man, they no longer have much to sing about.
Time for Drinks! - The merry foursome now head off towards the bar, which is actually the conversation room of the house, for this is where the inside of the "wheel" is kept. The water-wheel, that is. Look how thick the supporting beams are! This house is built to withstand a Blitz.
The Bar - Another sloppy screenshot pastiche. If you want to see a larger image simply click on the photo...but be warned, the images only get blurrier the larger they are viewed.
To the Dining Room! - After Walter's signature cocktails have been downed, he precedes to show them the dining room, tastefully furnished in Early American style.
The Dining Room - Straight out of the 1941 Ethan Allen catalog.
The Upstairs Hall - Bridget now ushers her female guests to the upstairs guest rooms. There are four bedrooms in the main-room and supposedly two additional rooms above the barn. Bridget and Walter have separate bedrooms....she claims.
Guest Bedroom #1 - Mrs. Woodruff is shown her cozy corners. Bridget plays the perfect hostess and even offers her a new toothbrush and nightgown ( why can't we be invited to Bridgie's place? )
Guest Bedroom #2 - Mary's chamber is much larger and there seems to be a flower theme going on here.
Look how wide the doors are! Marvelous.
The Barn Loft Guestroom - Finally, the barn loft, where Jimmy gets to bed for the night. He wonders why he can't stay in the main room, insisting that he has been "housebroken".
THE TALENTS BEHIND THE SCREEN
The art direction of When Ladies Meet can be attributed to that artistic genius of MGM - Cedric Gibbons - whom you will find on the credits of over 1000 films. Almost all of his sets were decorated by Edwin Willis, who naturally did this film as well. When you have two talented individuals like these fellows working together you are bound to see some great house designs up on the silver screen, and, for me, Bridget's house in When Ladies Meet ranks as one of the best "country retreats" to be seen.
This post is our contribution to The Favorite Film and TV Homes Blogathon being hosted by Phyllis Loves Classic Movies and Love Letters to Old Hollywood. Simply click on the links above to read more posts about fabulous house sets from the golden age of Hollywood.