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Film / The Purchase Price

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The Purchase Price (1932) is a pre-Code drama directed by William A. Wellman, starring Barbara Stanwyck and George Brent.

Joan (Stanwyck) is a torch singer who wants to get away from her gangster ex-boyfriend. She finds her opportunity by becoming a mail-order bride for a man, Jim Gordon (Brent), in North Dakota. However, Jim and Joan get off on the wrong foot and subsequently have a cold relationship. Joan tries to adjust to the country life and capture Jim's heart.


The Purchase Price shows the following tropes:

  • Act of True Love: Saving the wheat from the fire was enough for Jim to realize that Joan really does love him.
  • The Chanteuse: Joan’s line of work which is too risque for her playboy boyfriend's family.
  • Determined Homesteader's Wife: A city girl turns into a country girl and manages to keep her head up by being fiercely determined to win Jim's affection and be a good farmer.
  • Ignore the Fanservice: Trying to entice Jim, Joan sets out her lingerie in his line of sight to get him into her room, but he closes the door, much to her chagrin.
  • Innocent Cohabitation: Due to not consummating their marriage, both Jim and Joan end up more like roommates than husband and wife.
  • Last-Minute Hookup: After helping put out the flames destroying their wheat (which they spent painstaking hours on), Jim picks Joan up in a romance novel way and they're off to consummate their marriage.
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  • Love Confession: Averted with Jim. Even after many confessions of her love, Jim still won’t cave and consummate their marriage.
  • Lingerie Scene: In the aforementioned Ignore the Fanservice scene, Joan gets to frolic in her lingerie.
  • Mail-Order Bride: Joan becomes one when she founds out that her gangster ex-boyfriend has found her hiding in Montreal, and her spinster housemaid sent Joan’s picture instead of hers to the mail-order service.
  • Marriage Before Romance: How Jim and Joan’s relationship begins.
  • Parental Marriage Veto: Joan was engaged to a well-to-do playboy but his parents objected to their marriage, so he dumped Joan.
  • Sexless Marriage: The Gordons' marriage gets off on the wrong foot because Joan is uncomfortable having sex with a man she barely knows. Jim, then, stays away from her after the incident (where he forced himself on her, but Joan rejected him soundly) and keeps his distance.
  • Video Credits: Early Warner Bros. films usually begin this way.