STRANGERS MAY KISS

Produced and Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Premiered: March 13, 1931 (Los Angeles)
Released: April 4, 1931

Featured cast: Norma Shearer, Neil Hamilton, Robert Montgomery, Irene Rich

Producer: Lawrence Weingarten 
Director: George Fitzmaurice
Screenwriters: John Meehan
Source: the novel by Ursula Parrott
Cinematographer: William Daniels

THEME

A young career woman risks her reputation by living with the journalist who refuses to marry her.

PRODUCTION QUOTE

“The success of The Divorcee has prompted Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer officials to purchase Ursula Parrott’s latest novel, bearing the lively title Strangers May Kiss. While no luminary has definitely been assigned to the vehicle, it is likely, we hear on good authority, that Joan Crawford will play the star role. Whether this book has as vivid a story as The Divorcee, we don’t know, not having had a chance to read it, but if it is, no doubt some clever writer at M-G-M will be able to make it acceptable to the censor powers-that-be.”
- Grace Kingsley, “M-G-M Buys Parrott Story,” Los Angeles Times, July 11, 1930

REVIEWS

Strangers May Kiss is based on the best seller by Ursula Parrott, whose Ex-Wife provided Metro and Norma Shearer with a previous release. The Metro star is back with a sweet film. Story deals with a girl’s unwavering love for a roving newspaper man and their intimate relations in the hope (by the girl) of ultimate marriage. The novel ended with the girl waiting so many years that she finally determined suicide as a better antidote than counting days on calendars. Writer John Meehan has changed this to a happy ending.”
- Variety, March 11, 1931

“This is Norma Shearer's first picture since she be­came a mother and it's her finest picture to date. That's going some, as The Divorcee won many of the honors that were floating around last year, but Ursula Parrott develops her characters more logically, and Norma’s work in some scenes is superb. Rarely has one been as gorgeous as our Norma while treading the primrose path.”
- Photoplay, May 1931

Strangers May Kiss is, of course, meeting the same success at the Capitol that has greeted it elsewhere, and it will inevitably remain a second week. The reason for this is not difficult to discover. First, it is a companion piece to The Divorcee, embodying the same handsomeness of production, a like average of excellent acting, and that air of disillusioned worldliness which appeals to picturegoers educated by the ‘talkies.’ Basically the picture is just trash, but this need not necessarily be gone into, for its box-office appeal invalidates criticism. It is curious, though, how the moral standard of the screen is changing even as censorship is re­laxing.”
- Norbert Lusk, “Moral Standard Relaxed in Miss Shearer Film,” Los Angeles Times, April 19, 1931

LETTER TO MOVIE MAGAZINE EDITOR

“Norma Shearer was fine in the dramatic scenes of Strangers May Kiss, but the comedy scenes were ruined by an annoying giggle which grates on one’s nerves. Too bad the story was not worked out to a logical conclusion. The plot lost its punch and became just another movie.”
- Elsie Hunter, Chicago, Illinois, “Brickbats and Bouquets,” Photoplay, July 1931

ARTIST COMMENT

“I feel easier when I’m doing drama because it keeps me talking more. There is nothing more difficult than comedy. So much depends on the expression, and it seems to me that one has to be so, so versatile to get over subtlety and nuance and a knowing humor. I am positively filled with awe when I look back at the wonderful things the players did in silent pictures. I’m sure I don’t know how they ever managed without any chatter to help them.”
- Philip K. Scheuer, “Norma Speaks Right Out,” Los Angeles Times, March 15, 1931

FIGURES

Strangers May Kiss cost $417,000 and grossed $1,272,000.
(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