Produced and Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Released: September 24, 1932 (New York premiere)

Featured cast: Norma Shearer, Fredric March, Leslie Howard, O.P. Heggie

Producer: Irving G. Thalberg  
Director: Sidney Franklin
Screenwriters: Jane Murfin, Donald Ogden Stewart, Claudine West, Ernest Vajda, James Bernard Fagan; John Meehan, Frances Marion (uncredited)
Source: the play by Jane Cowl and Jane Murfin
Cinematographer: Lee Garmes


A woman falls in love with a man whose father killed her aunt many years earlier.


“I like to see Miss Shearer in pictures like Smilin’ Through. The kind of things she did when she began. I’ve always felt that’s where she belongs, in the lovely kind of things.”
- Film Editor Danny Gray to Gladys Hall, “Norma Shearer, a Heroine to Others,” Motion Picture, January 1933


“Norma Shearer, one of the principals in Strange Interlude, now at the Astor, is also to be seen at the Capitol in Smilin’ Through. It is a beautiful production, too immaculate, if anything, in its scenes of the past. It is rich in sentiment, but it benefits by expert photography, particularly in those scenes in which a wraith-like figure appears and talks. Miss Shearer is no less beautiful than she is in Strange Interlude, but here, occasionally, she is almost too careful about her personal appearance.”
- Mordaunt Hall, “Smilin’ Through,” The New York Times, October 15, 1932

“Miss Shearer is so earnest, so straightforward and touching, so entirely in the proper romantic mood, that you are reminded that she is an effective sentimental player, if hardly an ideal O'Neill heroine.”
- Richard Watts, Jr., New York Herald Tribune, October 15, 1932

“Norma Shearer has sprung a surprise on us. Here she has been building up a great reputation as a sophis­ticate, ever since The Divorcee right through to Strange Interlude—and now, suddenly, she turns out the season’s most romantic picture. Sentimentality is writ­ large all over it, but it makes no apologies; it justifies itself with its beauty, its charm, its wistful moodiness.”

- Movie Classic, December 1932


“This is the only good picture Metro gave me the entire season. It doubled my business. Exploit this and you will be more than pleased with the results.”
- Edward L. Ornstein, Vernon Theatre, Mount Vernon, Kentucky, Motion Picture Herald, February 25, 1933

“Wonderful. It drew better than anything we have played in many a day. Liked by all classes. People talked about it on the way out.”
- Mrs. Edith Fordyce, Princess Theatre, Selma, Louisiana, Motion Picture Herald, January 14, 1933


Smilin’ Through was the story of a love that transcended death, a love everlasting; or perhaps I should simply say, a story of love. It was a stage play written by a beautiful actress named Jane Cowl, and it enjoyed great success. It was also made into a silent picture starring Norma Talmadge. However, it took place in a different era, and I felt, having played so many sophisticated roles, that this would be old-fashioned and overly sentimental. Irving realized the meaning of this ageless tale. He knew it was gold and that gold never goes out of style. Little did I suspect that this was going to be one of the best loved pictures of my career.”
- Norma Shearer, Memoir Notes


Smilin’ Through cost $851,000 and grossed $2,033,000.
(These figures have not been adjusted for inflation nor do they include profits from reissues, television syndication, and home entertainment formats.)

Scene Stills

Behind the Scenes