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Film / In Name Only (1939)

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In Name Only is a 1939 RKO Pictures romantic drama directed by John Cromwell, starring Carole Lombard, Cary Grant, and Kay Francis.

Alec Walker (Grant) meets and befriends lonely widow Julie Eden (Lombard). Unbeknownst to Julie, Alec is married to Maida (Francis), a manipulative gold-digger. Their marriage is in name only, but Julie refuses to continue her friendship with Alec after she finds out about the marriage.

Alec eventually asks for a divorce: Maida is, however, not willing to let go so easily. Slowly, Alec and Julie fall in love, but Maida is determined to make it difficult for both Alec and Julie to be together.

In Name Only shows the following tropes:

  • Deadpan Snarker: Alec and Julie show shades of this.
  • Happy Marriage Charade: Between Maida and Alec. They’re married out obligation and the fact that Alec's parents would disapprove of a divorce.
  • Idiot Ball: Alec gets drunk and sleeps in front of a window during winter and gets pneumonia as a result. It almost kills him.
  • It's All About Me: Maida only cares about herself and the money that she has and will inherit when Alec’s parents die.
  • Gold Digger: Maida is not the fun type: she’s the more realistic version who will stop at nothing to keep what she has.
  • The Power of Love: Julie and Alec can live through this hardship because of their true love for one another.
  • Rich Bitch: Maida, and how! She only wants to avoid a divorce so she can keep her social status and money.
  • Romancing the Widow: Alec finds Julie fishing and decides to befriend her. Things soon turn romantic.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Widow seeks good man.
  • Spurned into Suicide: Maida had a lover which she spurned to marry Alec. Alec received a letter proving this from the man’s mother.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Susan, Maida’s “friend,” follows Alec around, trying to seduce him.