splash  God’s Gift to Women is a Pre-Code musical comedy whose musical numbers were cut and whose humor and suggestive scenes are largely tempered by the presence of star Frank Fay. He plays the Parisian descendant of a Don Juan who vows to stop philandering in order to win the hand of a virtuous young lady with a disapproving father. Louise Brooks plays one of a handful of women irresistibly drawn to Fay’s character.

Film Daily described the film as a “Merry French farce with amusing plot and deft comedy work by Frank Fay, fine feminine support and good direction.” Edward Churchill, writing in Motion Picture Herald, stated “Frank Fay is the whole show in this broadly sophisticated story of Parisian love and Parisian life. Fay has all the women in the world after him, so it seems, and they are all good-looking. In fact, some of them are very beautiful, and they seem to like Fay. . . . Jane Hinton hasn’t given the picture much of a story as far as the plot is concerned, but the situations are excellent. Jackson and Griffith have tossed in some rare gags and some excellent dialogue and the costume department at Warners has been busy. . . . Michael Curtiz has built a snappy, laughable and highly entertaining picture around Fay and the preview audience laughed plenty. Photography is good, settings are in perfect keeping with the vehicle and the sound is clear.”

The movie, indeed, belongs to Fay, who was a popular Broadway star of light comedies. Casting the not-quite leading man as a Casanova was a stretch, but his delivery is mildly amusing at times. The plot line is predictable, and there’s a twist in the final scenes. The San Francisco Chronicle thought “The picture is a bit of fluff, but it is amusing and is well produced.”

Harry Mines of the Los Angeles Daily Illustrated News thought “All the girls in the cast have the opportunity to wear beautiful clothes and look their vampiest. They are Laura LaPlante, Marguerite Livingston, Yola D’Avril, Louise Brooks, Joan Blondell, Ethelyn Claire and the Sisters ‘G’.” Not surprisingly, Jerry Hoffman of the Los Angeles Examiner considered the film little more than “album of Hollywood’s beautiful women.” Harry Evans of Life magazine quipped “These few amusing moments are the film’s total assets — unless you haven’t seen Louise Brooks, Joan Blondell and Yola D’Avril in their underwear.”

All were not so forgiving. Variety called God’s Gift to Women “no gift to audiences.” Richard Watts Jr. of the New York Herald Tribune called it a “thin farce.”  Thonton Delehanty of the New York Post was less generous, “The humor is in the style of the hackneyed French farce, so hackneyed that it is paralyzingly awful.”

Unfortunately, the film is nowhere near a star turn for Brooks. And her second consecutive supporting role left some critics surprised. As with her small part in It Pays to Advertise, some including W. Ward Marsh of the Cleveland Plain Dealer could only wish…. “Louise Brooks (returning to the screen in a comparatively minor role)….”

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STORY SYNOPSIS:
“In a Parisian nightclub, Diane Churchill, an American woman, and her father are fascinated to learn that Jacques Duryea, the young man seated at a table near them, is an international lover known as Toto, able to have any woman he wants. Toto finds Diane very attractive and manages to dance with her, but as soon as their dance is over, Diane. who disapproves of him, leaves with her father. In the following days, Toto follows Diane everywhere. After she accidentally shuts the car door on his hand, she takes pity on him and bandages his injury. At tea, Toto tells her that she is his ideal woman and now that he has found her, he is finished philandering. Site wants to believe him, but while she visits him at home, Tania, a former mistress, arrives with several suitcases, clearly intending to live there. Diane leaves and when Toto returns, he forces Tania to leave. That night, Churchill attends a concert, leaving Diane home alone. Wearing a disguise, Toto sneaks into her house to beg forgiveness. She admits that she is in love with him. When Toto tells Churchill that he intends to marry Diane, Churchill agrees on the condition that Toto stay away from Diane for six months. He also demands that Toto see his doctor to insure that he is in good health. After an examination, the doctor warns Toto that he has a bad heart and the least excitement may cause it to burst. In order to stay alive, he must stop drinking and give up women entirely. When they hear the news, several old girl friends want to nurse him. Toto tries desperately to get rid of them and an angry husband appears, intending to kill him. After all this excitement, the doctor warns that even one kiss will kill him. Then Diane tells Toto that her father is taking her back to America and offers to spend an hour with him that night. Not wanting to say no, Toto arranges for his funeral. Diane arrives right on time, and Toto kisses her, expecting to die immediately. Nothing happens, however, and it turns out that Churchill paid the doctor to lie in order to discover if Toto loved Diane more than life. Now that he really believes in Toto’s love for his daughter, he allows them to marry.”

PRODUCTION HISTORY:
Production on the film took place in and around Los Angeles in early 1931.

CAST:

Frank Fay
Toto Duryea
Laura La Plante
Diane Churchill
Joan Blondell
Fifi
Charles Winninger
Mr. John Churchill
Alan Mowbray
Auguste, Toto’s Butler
Arthur Edmund Carewe
Dr. Louis Dumont
Billy House
Mons. Cesare
Yola d’Avril
Dagmar
John T. Murray
Mons. Chaumier, an Irate Husband
Louise Brooks
Florine
Margaret Livingston
Tania Donaliff
Armand Kaliz
Mons. Rancour
Charles Judels
Undertaker
Tyrell Davis
Basil, called ‘Pompom’
Eleanor Gutchrlein
Maybelle (as Sisters G)
Karla Gutchrlein
Marie (as Sisters G)
Ethlyne Clair
Yvonne, a Party Girl (uncredited)
Bill Elliott
undetermined role (uncredited)
Hazel Howell
Camille (uncredited)
Alphonse Martell
Alphonse, the Headwaiter (uncredited)
Nina Quartero
Suzanne, a Party Girl (uncredited)

CREDITS:

Studio:
Warner Brothers
Director:
Michael Curtiz
Writing Credits:
Joseph Jackson and Raymond Griffith (screenplay), adapted from the stage play The Devil Was Sick by Jane Hinton
Cinematography:
Robert Kurrle
Film Editor:
James Gibbon
Art Direction:
Robert Haas
Wardrobe:
Earl Luick
Music:
David Mendoza (uncredited) / Vitaphone Orchestra (conducted by Leo F. Forbstein)
Format:
Sound – black & white (Vitaphone)
Running Time:
8 reels (6,708 feet); reported as 71-72 and 74 minutes
Copyright:
April 14, 1931 by Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc. (LP2138)
Release Date:
April 15, 1931
Premiere:

Country of Origin:
United States

ALTERNATE TITLES:
Under its American title, God’s Gift to Women, documented screenings of the film took place in Canada, England, and Sweden. The film was also shown in England under the title Too Many Women. Elsewhere, this motion picture was known to have been shown under other-language titles including Dar boha k ženám (Czechoslovakia); Gotten Geschenk au die Frauen (Germany); Bóg dal za duzo kobiet (Poland); and O Presente de Deus Para (in Portuguese-American newspapers).

STATUS:
Only the American release version of the film (without the musical elements) is extant. In the past, lesser quality dupes have circulated on VHS and DVD. In 2012, Warner Archive Collection released the film on DVD. (Of note: the UCLA Film and Television Archive holds a 2 reel (ca. 3200 ft.) b&w 16 mm. safety print, as well as 8 of 8 sound-on-disc 33 1/3 rpm mono recordings of the film. This 1931 film would have been sound on film, with disks made afterwards for theaters that could only play that format.)

RELATED ARTICLES & REVIEWS:
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TRIVIA: about the film

God’s Gift to Women was based on a play, The Devil Was Sick, by Jane Hinton; the title of the play was the film’s original working title.

The film was originally completed as a musical. Due to audience distaste for musicals, however, all the songs were cut in American prints. The complete film was released intact in other countries, where there was no such decline in popularity. Cut from the version released in the United States was a theme song sung by Frank Fay, then a major Broadway star. The theme song, which is heard over the credits, is underscored several times in the film. Also cut was an elaborate dance number by the Sisters “G” which appeared in the film during its nightclub sequence. The complete film was released intact outside the United States, but only the American print is known to have survived.

— The credits note that Brunswick Radios were used exclusively in the production.

During the film’s April, 1931 showing in New York City, star Frank Fay made a personal appearance at the Strand Theater. (Fay was married at the time to Barbara Stanywck).

—  Leading lady Laura La Plante played Magnolia in the first film version of Show Boat (1929); Charles Winninger, who plays her father in God’s Gift to Women, would play Cap’n Andy Hawks in the 1936 version of Show Boat.

— Fay’s character enjoyed a different lover each night of the week. Brooks – “brunette, bad and bold” – was assigned Thursday night.