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Rita and Glenn Ford as Natalie Rouguin and Pierre Morestan The Lady in Question

A Columbia Picture (1940)

Produced by B. B. Kahane
Directed by Charles Vidor

Screenplay by Lewis Meltzer,
based on screenplay, Gribouille, by H.G.
Lustig
and Marcel Richard

Featuring:
Brian Aherne: Andre Morestan
Rita Hayworth: Natalie Rouguin
Glenn Ford: Pierre Morestan
Irene Rich: Michele Morestan
George Coulouris as Defense Attorney
Lloyd Corrigan as Prosecuting Attorney
Evelyn Keyes: Francoise Morestan
Edward Norris as Robert LaCoste

Gowns by Kalloch

Black and White, 77 mins. running time


The Lady In Question was the first movie to co-star Rita Hayworth with Glenn Ford. They went on to make four more memorable films together in the years to come. In a way their first scene together in this film reminds me of their first scene together in Gilda, when she is first introduced to Johnny. This is a remake of the 1938 French film Gribouille, that was released in the United States as Heart of Paris. The story is set in France. The film's original title was It Happened in Paris, but this was changed before it's release because they thought it made it sound like it was a story about the war.

An exuberant Andre Morestan (Brian Aherne) arrives at the courthouse to serves as a jurist in the case of Natalie Rouguin (Rita Hayworth) -Did she, or did she not murder Gilbert Marninier? When the trial begins, Natalie explains that on the night of Gilbert's death, he came to her home drunk and attempted to kill her. Later, the judge questions the boy's father, Mr. Marninier (William Stack). He testifies that his son stole money from him to give to Natalie, that she was a gold-digger and a murderer. From Marinier's testimony, they find that his son had gone to the address of another Natalie Rouguin on the day in question, thinking it was the home of the Natalie he knew. The other Natalie (Fern Emmett) testifies that a vicious Gilbert burst into her home demanding to know where she was hiding Natalie. They conclude that he must have hired a man to spy on Natalie and there was a mix-up caused by the identical names. Andre believes the girl is innocent, and talks his fellow jurors into thinking as he does. Thanks to Andre, Natalie is acquitted.

Following the trial, Andre feels sorry for Natalie, knowing she will have trouble getting her life back together. He offers his assistance, hiring her to work in his bicycle shop. Furthermore, he invites her to move in with his family. Knowing they would frown upon it, he tells them that she is "Jean", the daughter of an old friend. What neither Natalie nor Andre know is that his son, Pierre (Glenn Ford), is aware of her identity, having snuck in to the courtroom during the trial. Pierre is immediately attracted to her, but because of who she is, does not act on his feelings. Later Pierre gets the mistaken idea that Andre and Natalie are having an affair. He tells her he knows who she is and asks her to leave. When she explains how completely wrong he is about his father, Pierre feels foolish and soon falls in love with the vulnerable young woman.

Not long after that however, Andre's daughter Francoise's (Evelyn Keyes) sleazy boyfriend finds out who "Jean" is and tells the family. Because of this, Pierre makes plans to run away with Natalie, and is stealing money to take with them when Andre enters the room. When he sees what Pierre is doing, he is appalled to find his son stealing from him. He jumps to the conclusion that Natalie put him up to it and begins to believe she was guilty all along. The following day, Andre goes to the president of the court to tell him what has happened. From the judge Andre learns that new evidence had appeared after the case was settled, that proved her innocence. Andre returns home feeling like a fool, and gives Natalie and Pierre his blessing to be married.

This is my favorite of Rita's early films. Laced throughout the drama are some great comedy sequences with Brian Aherne, Curt Bois, Evelyn Keyes, and Summer Getchell. Aherne's role in this movie is said to have been the personal "favorite" of his career.


The Lady in Question- Rita and Glenn Ford
Publicity shot of Rita and Glenn Ford for The Lady in Question.


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