Chained is a 1934 American film directed by Clarence Brown, starring Joan Crawford and Clark Gable, with supporting performances by Otto Kruger and Stuart Erwin. The screenplay was written by John Lee Mahin, Albert Hackett and Frances Goodrich, based upon a story by Edgar Selwyn.
The plot concerns a kept woman who finds herself drawn to a charismatic South American rancher while aboard a cruise, all the while still harboring feelings for her married lover back home.
Chained is the fifth of eight collaborations between Crawford and Gable.
Eager to marry his devoted secretary, Diane Lovering (Joan Crawford), New York City shipping magnate Richard Field (Otto Kruger) asks his wife Louise (Marjorie Gateson) for a divorce. Louise, however, refuses to give up her social position and denies Richard's request. Although Diane insists that she will continue to love him without the benefit of marriage, Richard asks her to contemplate her choices while cruising to South America on one of his boats. Diane agrees to the cruise, but vows to return to New York unchanged.
Soon after boarding, Diane meets Johnnie Smith (Stuart Erwin) in the ship's bar and rejects his flirtations. Johnny asks his smooth-talking best friend, Mike Bradley (Clark Gable), for help, but is double-crossed when Mike treats him like a drunk who's annoying Diane. Mike charms her and a shipboard romance blossoms. Still true to Richard, Diane makes no commitments to Mike. He persists, inviting her to visit his ranch in Buenos Aires. After a fun-filled day, Diane and Mike confess their mutual love. Diane finally tells him about Richard, but ealizing that Mike is the man she truly loves, Diane promises that when she returns to New York, she will end her affair with Richard.
Richard, however, presents her with a wedding ring and explains that his wife finally agreed to divorce him on condition that he not be allowed to see his sons. Overwhelmed by his sacrifice for her, Diane says nothing about her new romance. After writing Mike a "Dear John" letter dumping him, she marries the millionaire.
A year later, Diane runs into Mike in a New York gun shop and suggests they dine together. In spite of his bitterness, Mike still loves Diane and senses that she still loves him. Diane explains why she is loyal to Richard. Mike drops by their country house and, in spite of Diane's protests, vows to confront his rival. When Mike sees how kind and caring Richard is with Diane, however, he backs down and leaves. Richard reveals he had long sensed that she was in love with another man and nobly offers to divorce her. Unchained at last, Diane and Mike begin their married life on his Argentine ranch.Joan Crawford as Diane Lovering
Clark Gable as Michael "Mike" Bradley
Otto Kruger as Richard Field
Stuart Erwin as John "Johnnie" Smith
Una O'Connor as Amy, Diane's maid
Marjorie Gateson as Mrs. Louise Field
Akim Tamiroff as Pablo, the ranch chef
Chained was the first of eight films Crawford would make with cinematographer George J. Folsey. Folsey discovered a lighting scheme which emphasized her best features. As the crew prepared for a shipboard-in-the-moonlight scene, a single small spotlight shone down on Crawford from high above the stage. Folsey noticed how the soft light highlighted her eyes and cheekbones, and designed her key lighting around that. Crawford was thrilled with how she looked, and demanded the same kind of lighting for the rest of her career.
The Motion Picture Herald noted, "The showmanship value of the entertainment elements with which this picture deals is long and solidly established. The leading players ...are among the foremost exponents of the type of romantic theme which is its motivation."
New York Herald Tribune theater critic Richard Watts, Jr. noted, "the two stars, who certainly know their business, wisely decide to pass their time tossing charm and personality all over the place, which is obviously what the film requires for audience appeal."
According to MGM records the film earned $1,301,000 in the US and Canada and $687,000 elsewhere resulting in a profit of $732,000.