|The novel that scandalized Lynnfield!|
Imagine you’re a small-town girl from New England, raised by two maiden aunts. Imagine you’re a Sunday school teacher and the church organist. Imagine that you can barely sneeze without the entire community knowing about it. Then imagine that in the midst of all this, you’ve written a racy best-selling novel that has taken the world by storm under a pseudonym. How do you manage to live your life while keeping the truth from everyone you know?
The Sinner is a Sensation
That’s the plot of Theodora Goes Wild starring Irene Dunne. With the publication of The Sinner by Caroline Adams (Theodora), the Lynnfield Literary Guild is up in arms. The local paper has serialized the scandalous novel and the guild wants it banned. And it’s up to Theodora to tell Jed Waterbury, (Thomas Mitchell) editor of the local paper, of the guild’s intentions.
|Theodora (Dunne in foreground) with town gossip |
Rebecca Perry (left) and her two aunts (right)
On a trip to New York City to meet with her publisher, Theodora runs into an artist named Michael Grant
(Melvyn Douglas), who thinks that Theodora needs to let her hair down. Grant, however, has stayed in a loveless marriage to appease his politically ambitious father. Theodora may need to let her hair down, but is Mr. Grant the right person to be telling her so?
A new career high
With Theodora Goes Wild, Dunne entered a new phase in her already successful career. Starring in her first comedy, after years of specializing in weepy melodramas, she was a revelation. With this one role, Dunne established herself as one of the silver screen’s great female comedians. Her turn as Theodora Lynn earned her a second Best Actress nomination, alongside fellow Hoosier, Carole Lombard, nominated that same year for My Man Godfrey. Louise Rainer who won for her performance in The Great Ziegfeld shut out both actresses.
Mary McCarthy, who co-wrote the screenplay would go on to write her own scandalous novel, The Group in 1963. A case of life imitating art, you might say.
|A serious moment between Theodora |
and Michael Grant (Melvyn Douglas)