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Divorce of Lady X, (London 1938, Laurence Olivier, Merle Oberon)



Producer Alexander Korda remade his 1933 quota quickie Counsel’s Opinion with a much larger (£90,000) budget and Technicolor as The Divorce of Lady X which, wrote Film Weekly, ‘is, in fact, one of the nicest comedies ever made in this country … you’ll like it’.

Merle Oberon, wearing fancy dress, has to stay the night at a London hotel where, finding it full, she tricks herself into the suite of young barrister Laurence Olivier who gives up his bed for her. In the morning she leaves, having pretended to be married. The next day Olivier is visited by peer Ralph Richardson who wants a divorce on the grounds that his wife, Binnie Barnes, was seen the previous night in a man’s room at the same hotel. Olivier assumes, wrongly, that the girl in question is Oberon with whom he has fallen in love, and he suffers a series of comic embarrassments until the truth is revealed …

American director Tim Whelan applied an appropriately light touch to the charming material and made the most of, said Monthly Film Bulletin, ‘good opportunities for humorous dialogue and acting’.

Alexander Korda, producer of The Divorce of Lady X and one of the great names in British cinema, discovered the star of the film, Merle Oberon, and would make her Mrs. Korda in 1939.

production details
UK | London | 92 minutes | 1938

Director: Tim Whelan
Producer: Alexander Korda
Director of Photography:Harry Stradling
Editor: L. J.W. Stokvis
Composer: Miklos Rozsa
Script: Lajos Biro, Ian Dalrymple, Arthur Wimperis
Art Direction: Lazare Meerson

J.H. Roberts as Slade
Patricia Roc as Minor Role (uncredited)
Morton Selten as Lord Steele
Merle Oberon as Leslie Steele / Lady Claire Mere
Binnie Barnes as Lady Claire Mere
Michael Rennie as Minor Role (uncredited)
Laurence Olivier as Everard Logan
Ralph Richardson as Lord Mere
Gertrude Musgrove as Saunders, the Maid
Gus McNaughton as Room Service Waiter
H.B. Hallam as Jefferies, the Butler
Eileen Peel as Mrs. Johnson
Eva Moore as Lady