STRANGE INTERLUDE

Produced and Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Premiered: July 15, 1932 (Los Angeles)
Released: August 30, 1932 (New York premiere)

Featured cast: Norma Shearer, Clark Gable, Ralph Morgan, Alexander Kirkland

Producer: Irving Thalberg
Director: Robert Z. Leonard
Screenwriters: Bess Meredyth, C. Gardner Sullivan
Source: the play by Eugene O’Neill
Cinematographers: William Daniels (uncredited), Lee Garmes

THEME

A woman faced with hereditary insanity in her husband’s family secretly has a child by their best friend.

PRODUCTION QUOTE

“It’s taken me three years to discover why I can’t have Bill Daniels whenever I want him. That’s because Garbo is clever enough to have first choice. I can have him only when she isn't working.”
- Sonia Lee, “Norma Fights Back,” Hollywood, March 1933

REVIEWS

Strange Interlude was presented last night at the Astor before an audience which listened intently to every word uttered. It is one of those very rare pictures in which the intelligent dialogue never elicited so much as a murmur of disapproval, which on a first-night is exceptional. Norma Shearer has given several noteworthy performances in recent motion pictures, particularly in Private Lives, but in this present offering she easily excels anything she has done hitherto.”
- Mordaunt Hall, “Strange Interlude Is Engrossing and Compact in Film Form,” The New York Times, September 1, 1932

“Ah! There’s ‘good old Charlie. That first aside goes very well. The audience evidently likes it.’ [Charlie Marsden, the character played by Ralph Morgan, speaks an aside from the Eugene O’Neill play, heard in the film as a voice over, the first time this effect was ever used.] Why is that woman in the seat over there glaring at that man? Oh, I know. He was tapping his Panama hat, but he scarcely made a sound. That shows that the woman is very much interested in the film.

"It is a pleasure to observe how attentive the audience is. Norma Shearer looks extraordinarily beautiful, and she acts most efficiently. Irving Thalberg ought to be very proud of his wife. Her classic beauty is in keeping with the part, and when anyone in the picture comments on her beauty, there is every reason for the remark.”
- Mordaunt Hall, “At the First Night of a Worthy Film: Private Thoughts of a Reviewer During the Unfurling of Strange Interlude,” The New York Times, September 11, 1932

“For once Hollywood has dared to produce a picture that deals with life in terms of adult intelligence. But though the courage thus shown deserves every credit, the outgrowth of this courage, the film itself, is hardly a feather in the producer’s cap. It conforms faithfully to the Hollywood type of an uninspired crossbreed of the stage and the screen, and it is badly miscast in its two principal parts. Neither the beautiful but cold Norma Shearer, nor the uncouth Clark Gable are the actors for the parts of Nina and Darrell.”
- Alexander Bakshy, The Nation, September 28, 1932

“Miss Norma Shearer, apparently filled with rever­ence at the thought of the classic lines she is reciting, but, at the same time, understanding so little about them, makes Nina Leeds, the neurotic heroine, a good, healthy normal, young woman, who ages prettily and isn’t bothered much about her tragedies.”
- Richard Watts, Jr., New York Herald Tribune, October 15, 1932

LETTERS FROM REGIONAL THEATER OWNERS

“Not good for children. It’s as full of sex as a dog is of fleas. Can’t tell how it would draw as I played it during a blizzard.”
- C.M. Hartman, Liberty Theatre, Carnegie, Oklahoma, Motion Picture Herald, February 25, 1933

“Distinctively a woman’s picture. No doubt about its fine merit. A little draggy at times, but the women sat up. In fact, seventy-five percent of my audience were the ‘femmes.’ Shearer does herself proud, especially in her character makeup of the after-years.”
- Joe Hewitt, Strand Theatre, Robinson, Illinois, Motion Picture Herald, February 25, 1933

LETTERS TO MOVIE MAGAZINE EDITORS

“In Strange Interlude, remember Gordon’s birthday party? Don’t you think Norma Shearer and the other older characters were made to appear too old? I mean, after all, the boy was only supposed to be eight or nine.”
- Pearl Colin, Yonkers, New York, “Between You and Me,” Modern Screen, February 1933

“After seeing Norma Shearer’s brilliant acting in Strange Interlude, I am more than convinced that there is no actress in Hollywood who can surpass her in beauty or ability.”
- Kenneth Ricker, Stillwater, Oklahoma, “Box Office Critics,” New Movie, April 1933

ARTIST COMMENT

“There was nothing exactly normal about Strange Interlude. How could there be with neurotic people going around talking to themselves all the time?”
- Norma Shearer, Memoir Notes

FIGURES

Strange Interlude cost $654,000 and grossed $1,237,000.
(These figures have not been adjusted for inflation nor do they include profits from reissues, television syndication, and home entertainment formats.)

Scenes

Behind the Scenes

Portraits