Bed of Roses (1933)

Starring Constance Bennett and Joel McCrea
Directed by Gregory LaCava
Written by Wanda Tuchock, (with "Dialogue by" Gregory LaCava and Eugene Thackrey)

Constance Bennet stars as Laurie Evans, a recently released former resident of the Louisiana state penitentiary for women. She and a fellow parolee, Minnie, buy tickets on a riverboat heading down to New Orleans, but they can only afford tickets for part of the voyage so Minnie, taking the lead in such matters, finds two men also making the trip. Laurie pairs off with one of them, gets him drunk, and lifts his wallet. When he rats her out to the purser, she jumps overboard and is rescued by the crew of a barge captained by Dan Walters, played by Bennet's co-star, Joel McCrea. But she has lost the money from the pilfered wallet in the river. 

Captain Dan is smitten with Laurie and agrees to take her to New Orleans but when they get there he wakes to find she has left and taken both his money and the crew's pay. In the city, she tracks down a well-to-do publisher that she noticed on the riverboat before she and Minnie had selected their eventual victims. But now she is wearing glasses and a prim dress and says she's a reporter who is writing about important businessmen and wants to profile him. 

The "profile" turns into a night out on the town and when he's drunk she takes him home and when he passes out, she constructs a tableau of shoes and stockings, all over the floor, bottles on the table, and a garter in his hand. When he wakes up on the couch the next morning she lays it on thick, talking about "our nest" and then in the next scene she's lounging in bed in her own huge apartment. 

But despite having landed a sugar daddy, she hasn't forgotten Captain Dan. She goes back to visit him on his barge and pays back the money she stole and tells him she's found a job, a "good job" as a governess and that life is a real "bed of roses". 

Then Minnie, the other recent parolee, stops by Lauri's apartment to announce she is engaged to Ogilthorpe, the man on the riverboat that Lauri robbed! Steven shows up and tells Lauri he's been checking out her story, knows she's not from West Virginia like she said, that he knows she's been hanging out at the docks and he demands that she move out. Later, Lauri confides to Minnie about Dan, admitting that "he's got my goat". 

The next night, on his barge, Dan and Lauri have dinner and he gives her a kimono. He tells her that he's going upriver in the morning, that he wants her to come along, and asks her to marry him. 

Back at Lauri's apartment, she tell the maid to pack her stuff and she calls to tell Minnie the good news. When Steven shows up and Lauri says she's leaving and getting married, he implies that if she goes through with it, he'll expose her past. 

Next morning, Dan is waiting for Lauri. Its eight in the morning and they were supposed to leave at six. Despondent, he tears up the Kimono he had bought for her. 

Though Lauri didn't leave with Dan, she's left Steven and is now living in a tiny apartment. Steven seeks out Minnie and asks her to help him get her back. He asks Minnie to arrange a "chance meeting", perhaps at the Mardi Gras next week. Minnie agrees and goes to the clothes shop where Lauri is working and invites her to a Mardi Gras party at her fiancé's home.  

During the Mardi Gras parade, Minnie brings Lauri to a café. Everyone is masked for the festivities, and Steven is there but Lauri guesses that its him and is unimpressed by the diamond bracelet he has placed at her table setting. 

Back at her apartment, Lauri is surprised when Dan has finally found where she lives after days of looking for her. He asks her to come with him and says he doesn't care about her past. She says she just wanted to prove to herself that she could be the kind of girl he deserves. As they kiss, Minnie walks in to witnesses their happy reconciliation and, at just over an hour, the movie is finished. 

"Bed of Roses" is a minor pre-code movie and not even as racy as others made during this era were, but it still implies plenty and dances around themes that wouldn't be acceptable a few years later. The New Orleans setting serves the story well with the dockside scenes and the Mardi Gras sequence and some of the brief establishing shots may have been filmed here by a second unit. It is mainly interesting as an example of how New Orleans is a natural setting for this type of "bad girl makes good" story.