Margit Agnew (Loy) has managed her little sister Irenes (Florence Rice) life since their mother died. One of Margits schemes includes Irene's engagement to the milquetoast Waldo (John Beal) for the past four years, and Margit believes that now is the time for them to marry. Irene and Waldo arent too keen on the idea but are heavily influenced by Margit's strict, determined nature and halfheartedly comply.
But Irene dreams of becoming an actress and has been under the tutorage of eccentric director Charles Lodge (Powell). A series of events leads Margit to believe that Irene is in love with Charles, who she finds to be an unholy vagrant set out to ruin her sisters hopes of respectability. She strives to end the love affair, but unbeknownst to her, Charles has a plan of his own to rid Margit of her carefully laid out plans.
Double Wedding demonstrates the following tropes:
- Artsy Beret: The main character is a painter, aspiring screenwriter, and director who paints pictures of his woman muses. He's always wearing a beret and striped shirt.
- Amicably Divorced: Charles and his rich ex-wife, Claire. She even approves his marriage even if she's not sure who the bride is.
- Arranged Marriage: Margit sets up Irene and Waldo, but Waldos lack of initiative has led to a very long engagement.
- Bad "Bad Acting": Charles screenplay offers several opportunities for bad love scenes.
- Batman Gambit: Lets just say that Charles tries to marry Irene to really marry Margit.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: William Powell and Myrna Loy? BST to the max.
- Clueless Detective: Margits head servant, Keough, used to be a detective. And a pretty good one, so he tells her. We soon find out that his detective skills are somewhat lacking.
- Comforting Comforter: Not that it's hard to figure out Powell and Loy will get together in a Powell and Loy film, but Margit's developing feelings for Charles are shown when she puts a blanket over him, as he dozes in the woods after their picnic.
- Eccentric Mentor: Although Margit is made to believe they are lovers, Charles is more Irenes crazy acting mentor than someone she's in love with.
- Everybody Smokes: Even in a heavy pro-smoking society, Margit is told that she smokes way too much which usually meant a woman was deeply unsatisfied.
- Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Irene is the foolish one, in Margits eyes anyways, whereas Margit is the tirelessly responsible and organized sister.
- Foregone Conclusion: The title says it all.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Confounded by Charles way of life and his attitude, Margit asks:Do you smoke dope?
- Charles asks Margot to pose for a painting. Margit, shocked, says, "You mean, in the—, in the—", and Charles cheerfully replies "In the morning, in the afternoon, it doesn't matter when.
- Hipster: Charles comes off less like a bohemian and more like a hipster, whatever a hipster in the 30s would look like.
- Liquid Courage: Throughout the whole film, Waldo has been a rather meek tempered man who does whatever everyone wants him to do without ever thinking for himself. But once he finds out that Irene is marrying Charles, and he has a bit too much to drink, he finally makes a stand for what he wants.
- Love Makes You Crazy: The general theme of the film, exemplified by the final act.
- Love Triangle: Its hard to tell if Irene is on to Charles gag to make Margit love him, but by the final act, its clear that this triangle really was a set up on Charles part.
- Non-Action Guy: The whole issue Irene has with Waldo: he doesnt take any initiative in their relationship and lets Margit run his life.
- Not What It Looks Like: Charles and Irene are practicing a torrid love scene from his The Sheik-esque film, when Margit walks in and thinks that Charles is seducing Irene.
- Uptight Loves Wild: With a Gender Flip from the usual pattern. Margit the repressed, uptight control freak falls for Charles the madcap artist who lives in a trailer and dreams of Hollywood.