Why Change Your Wife?

No point, really, all women are the same.

That is, according to this 1920 movie starring Gloria Swanson called “Why Change Your Wife?”

Here’s how it goes. Man marries woman who promptly becomes “decent” and “modest” (though it does not show what she was before the marriage). He tries to liven things up by buying her a negligee from a fancy store, but who should be the model but a girl who had a crush on him in childhood.  This movie frequently focuses on the shoes as a symbol of sex and feminine power.  (In other words, shoes have been such for a very long time). These are her shoes. 

close up Sally shoe


Man tries to get wife to loosen up, but she refuses. Finds the negligee “vulgar” and “immodest”. This is it. Shocking! She is wearing more clothing than I wear to work.  Look at the box it came in, you could have had a coat delivered in that.

full negligee Beth

Check out the “slippers”. 

Beth slipper


She freaks out and won’t play. Look at her, she’s mortified. The ensemble is backless for god’s sake!
Final straw is when man buys tickets to a show and wife prefers to invite over a social climbing violinist and all her friends, who try to listen to him and stay awake.

violin scene


Instead of going home to wife’s violin snorefest, Man ends up taking old friend to show, they go back to her place, where she surprises him by opening up one arm of her couch to produce a record player, and the other to produce a wetbar.  Clearly people did not have sex on couches back then.

Sally couch

He then notices her shoes.

Sally date shoe

At some point she also puts perfume on her lips. Then dabs his lapels. Subtle.

Man goes home, wife smells perfume, they divorce.

Ex-Wife’s aunt tries to soothe her broken heart by taking her shopping (funny how little SOME things have changed) and she overhears the models making fun of her for “not being woman enough to hold onto her man”. This sets ex-wife off on a shopping and traveling spree.

Man marries other woman, who promptly turns into a nagging , irritating drudge like the first wife. They go on vacation, stay at the same hotel ex-wife happens to be vacationing at.

Ex-wife is dressed to the nines in her bathing costume, including fabulous sunbathing shoes.

Beth bathing shoe close up

Man notices them right away and sits down.  I can’t quite tell if the thing on her leg is part of a stocking or what it is, but she looks fab, and her parasol is made of strings.

Beth bathing shoe long view


Long story short, husband sustains head injury, ex-wife gets husband back, starts wearing fabulous clothes and they listen to dance records and live happily ever after.  Movie tells women not to forget to be the sweetheart their man married.  (New ex-wife says the only thing good about marriage is alimony).


12 Responses to “Why Change Your Wife?”

  1. Renee Says:

    Wow, very glamorous! Amazing shoes. Well, if shoes represent sex and feminine power, then by this movie’s standards I’m… I dunno – a grip or a gaffer, maybe?

  2. jenifersf Says:

    By this movie’s standards you, like most women, would not exist. 😦

  3. Mia Says:

    This was the most glorious, objective review I’ve read in a very long time. Thank you for the music. I have to ask, did the movie really focus in on the shoes or is that the reviewer’s doing?

    As for the tale, lesson is that men are easily led so I’d rather be the gaffer.

  4. jenifersf Says:

    Yes, those shots of the shoes are actual entire screen captures (except the first one, which I cropped slightly), and frequently just before those shots is a shot of the man pointedly “looking”.

    Another lesson may be not to take things for granted. And that shoes=fun. 🙂

    Thanks for the comments!

  5. Whose Shoes Wednesday…The Answer! » Manolo's Shoe Blog Says:

    […] P.S. The Manolo has linked to this in the past, but it remains worth the time: our friend JeniferSF uses shoes to explicate the Gloria Swanson movie, Why Change Wives. […]

  6. Snuze Says:

    Heh. Most times I watch a movie, it’s just a blur. I’m not likely to notice such things, so thank you for pointing them out. Interesting perspective.

    The shoes are gorgeous and they made me go grabby hands. Unfortunately, with feet as fat as mine, they will remain in my dreams only.

    But thank you for sharing.

  7. Whose Shoes Wednesday…The Answer! | FN Shoe Star Says:

    […] P.S. The Manolo has linked to this in the past, but it remains worth the time: our friend JeniferSF uses shoes to explicate the Gloria Swanson movie, Why Change Wives. […]

  8. Annie's Shoes Blog » Blog Archive » Whose Shoes Wednesday…The Answer! Says:

    […] P.S. The Manolo has linked to this in the past, but it remains worth the time: our friend JeniferSF uses shoes to explicate the Gloria Swanson movie, Why Change Wives. […]

  9. SpookyJanelle Says:

    The shoes were fabulous, and I adore Gloria Swanson… I enjoyed this little film. James Card, a film preservationist, actually refers to this movie as being one of DeMille’s masterpieces before he jumped the shark so to speak. I need to see its predecessor, Don’t Change Your Husband.

    And how can I get ahold of Gloria’s bathing suit??? Seriously!!

  10. professorsnack Says:

    This was a well written post. Do you have further plans to write here or have you decided to leave the blog as is?

  11. Jenifer Says:

    Professor Snack, I have more plans that can reasonably be achieved, but being unemployed should help my blogging immensely!

  12. Sonoma Madman (@SonomaMadman) Says:

    hey very funny, you get a rare double double “ark” from me jenifer, thus: arkark arkark! 😉

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