Impatient Maiden. 1932. USA. Directed by James Whale. Screenplay by Richard Schayer, Winifred Dunn, based on the novel The Impatient Virgin by Donald Henderson Clarke. With Mae Clarke, Lew Ayre, Una Merkel, Andy Devine. 35mm. 72 min.
The book was called The Impatient Virgin, but alas, even in the pre-Code period, such a blunt title didn’t stand a chance. Mae Clarke has the title role—a young secretary whose leery view of marriage has been shaped by working for a divorce attorney—in this Universal drama directed by James Whale. It was Clarke and Whale’s third and last collaboration, after Waterloo Bridge (widely considered her best role) and the legendary Frankenstein. While not on the level of those prior films, Impatient Maiden shows Whale on assignment and, writes critic David Cairns, entertaining himself “with elegant camera movements and evocative sound design.” Clarke’s performance proves again, if more proof were needed, that she deserves to be remembered for much more than taking a grapefruit in the face in The Public Enemy (1931).