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Film / The Single Standard

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The Single Standard is a 1929 film starring Greta Garbo, directed by John S. Robertson.

Arden Stuart (Garbo) is a rich young socialite. She's also someone who likes sex and romance, and she has only contempt for the Double Standard that says men are to be admired for their sexual conquests but women are to be scorned. After an affair with her chauffeur ends in tragedy, she falls for the ridiculously named Packy Cannon (Nils Asther), who may be even richer than she is. Packy whisks her away to the South Seas on his yacht, but eventually breaks off the romance.

There to pick up the pieces is another rich guy, Tommy Hewlett (Johnny Mack Brown). Tommy calls himself "boring" and knows that Arden really loves Packy, but asks her to marry him anyway. She does, but she can't forget her long-lost love.



  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Arden can choose between Packy, the dashing artist who gallivants around the world on his yacht, or handsome but dull Tommy. Guess who she chooses?
  • As You Know: "Mercedes, where's that sister of mine waiting?"
  • Betty and Veronica: A somewhat uncommon gender swap, in which Arden has to pick between handsome, dashing, but unreliable Packy and dull but reliable Tommy.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Arden is at the beach with her family one sunny day when she wanders at random into an office on the boardwalk and finds Packy, back in the USA after his long overseas tour.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: Tommy, who is perfectly aware that he is in the friend zone but is content to hang around Arden, occasionally asking plaintively if she'll marry him. Eventually it works. Until Packy shows up again, that is, and Tommy pulls out his gun.
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  • Double Standard: Discussed Trope. Arden is not a fan.
    Opening title card: For a number of generations men have done as they pleased—and women have done as men pleased—
  • Driven to Suicide: Anthony, Arden's chauffeur, kills himself when their romance gets him fired from his job.
  • Gossipy Hens: All the women who carp at Arden behind her back when she returns home after her adventure with Packy.
  • Hunting "Accident": Tommy's plan for himself, to save face. He tells Packy that Packy should reject Arden, but after that, Tommy will kill himself via hunting "accident". That way, Arden can get together with Packy in the end without shame or scandal.
  • Romantic Rain: The rain is pouring so hard when Arden and Packy leave his house that he's motivated to carry her to her car. Kissing ensues.
  • Romantic Runner-Up: One in which the runner-up wins. There's nothing in the movie to suggest that Arden ever changes her mind and prefers Tommy over Packy. Nope, she tells Packy directly that while she prefers him, she has to stay with Tommy for the sake of their son.
  • Secretly Wealthy: Arden is the only one who knows that her chauffeur is the son of a lord. It's vaguely hinted that the chauffeur, an "ace aviator", might be a Shell-Shocked Veteran from World War I.
  • Time Skip: A cut to Arden at the beach with Tommy and their toddler son is how we find out quite a bit of time has passed.

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