The Divorce of Lady X is a by the numbers screwball comedy elevated by better-than-average dialogue and snappy performances from its two leads, Lawrence Olivier and Merle Oberon. Olivier plays Everard Logan, a divorce lawyer who first has his room and then his heart stolen by Oberon, who plays charming socialite Leslie Steele. Now, because this is a screwball comedy from 1939 rather than a rom-com from today, the two do not sleep with each other. Rather, she sneaks out the next morning and witty repartee and misunderstandings ensue as he tries throughout the remainder of the movie to woo her. Leslie, as it turns out, likes to be woo-ed and isn’t above playing a few head games to keep things going. The question for the audience becomes simply will she or won’t she overplay her hand.
I enjoyed this one. Merle Oberon is way more charming and attractive than anyone named Merle Oberon has any right to be, and she and Olivier have great chemistry together. As with all movie romances, it basically comes down to whether or not we want to see them together. The great thing about screwball comedies is that, aside from the occasional loose leopard, this is accomplished for the most part through humorous, engaging dialogue that simultaneously highlights both the attractions and tensions that exist among the characters, and the Divorce of Lady X succeeds in this regard.