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The Silver Cord (1933)

A domineering matriarch is less than happy when her son brings home his new bride. She immediately sets to work at sabotaging their marriage as well as the engagement of her younger and ... See full summary »


John Cromwell


Jane Murfin (screenplay), Sidney Howard (from the play by)


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Complete credited cast:
Irene Dunne ... Christina Phelps
Joel McCrea ... David Phelps
Laura Hope Crews ... Mrs. Phelps
Eric Linden ... Robert Phelps
Frances Dee ... Hester


A domineering matriarch is less than happy when her son brings home his new bride. She immediately sets to work at sabotaging their marriage as well as the engagement of her younger and weaker son. Written by Daniel Bubbeo <dbubbeo@cmp.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

newlywed | mother | based on play | See All (3) »


Drama | Romance


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Release Date:

5 May 1933 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Amor de Mãe See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Victor System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Frances Dee met Joel McCrea on the set of this film. Following a whirlwind courtship, the two were married later that year(1933) in Rye, New York. He died on their 57th wedding anniversary. (ref: Frances Dee's Biography & Personal Details for marriage dates.) See more »


Robert Phelps: [Mummy's boy to ex-fiancee] What are you going to do?
Hester: I don't know... Yes I do, I'm going to marry an orphan!
See more »

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User Reviews

Mommie Queerest
23 April 2005 | by ptb-8See all my reviews

Yikes! and we all thought Joan Crawford was THE horror Mommy Dearest...well Laura Hope Crewes as Mom in this stinging 4 character film delivers (and cops) the goods in this cracker of a marital Mommy mangle.....THE SILVER CORD is a genuinely sensational pre code drama from RKO made in 1932 released in '33 from a 1929 play. So astonishing, frank and honest is each startling verbal exchange between one son's wife (IreneDunne) along with the other's fiancé as these two younger girls together go to war - gleefully angrily unwrapping the clearly incestuous hankerings of Mom towards her hunky eldest son played by virile Joel MacCrea and her younger 'beau'/son payed by delicate and beautiful 25 year old actor Eric Linden. I would think this film played to many howling appreciative audiences in huge theaters in 1933 and offers viewers even in 2005 a very fruity melodrama enlivened by crackling dialog not afraid to call Mother exactly as she is. This film would have been impossible to make after the censorship code came in after 1934. Other viewer comments on the IMDb support my reaction and you will find almost everyone lucky enough to see (and tape) THE SILVER CORD will agree it is an unforgettable and pungent script in a superbly produced film. It would have played like the VIRGINIA WOLF of 1932. Laura Hope Crewes must have kissed the sound stage at RKO for this role of a lifetime..even more than her fluffy turn in GWTW. Irene Dunne is as gorgeous and casual and believable as ever, fighting for her husband yet again, and it is well worth seeing The Divorcée made in 1929 as a companion piece to THE SILVER CORD. Joel MaCrea is certainly in the same league as Cary Grant and Randolph Scott in the handsome and lovable stakes. I had never seen Eric Linden in a real acting role before (he played the leg amputee in the hospital horror scene in GWTW) and here he is startling and youthful with an excellent role as Robert, the younger and more sensitive son. Some verbal barbs leveled at him again would not get past the Code office if made later. This is a really good film, and if the viewer forgives some of the creakiness of its time and settles in for a sparring match of unequaled pungency for a 1932 movie, you will be well rewarded. At first I thought some of the throat clutching melodrama of Mother was dated until I realized it was a set up of the excellent screenplay to make the viewer laugh at her as though she is a weak little old lady......NOT..... but nor are the other two women in this powerhouse play on film, hence the fantastic retort dialog. That ocean-liner seen in reel one is THE LEVIATHAN the monster ship the US won from the Germans in WW1 that was so huge and unwieldy that crews were nervous wrecks trying to wrestle with it upon the Atlantic. It is infamous for ploughing headfirst up a colossal wave in a storm and shot over the crest at such an angle the spine along the bottom cracked and the ship split vertically between the funnels. It limped to port with rattling steel panels and winking rivet holes...and mentally shattered crew and passengers. It was scuttled in 1935 after being cursed and plagued with horror mechanical problems all its existence. Not such a war prize after all.

Anyway, the dialog in THE SILVER CORD is enough excitement for one night: eg: "Mother! the Doctor said there was nothing wrong with you, in fact he said it would take a stick of dynamite to kill you". Whammo!

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