The Easiest Way

Heart at the Crossroads (OT: The Easiest Way ) is an American film from 1931 with Constance Bennett in the lead role. The film is typical with its open presentation of extramarital relations for the lax handling of the censorship regulations before the effective date of the Production Code.


Laura Murdock grew up in extreme poverty and without a sound education. Her parents are alcoholics who live by what their children deserve. Her daughter Peg they have already married to the motorist Nick and now they hope to Laura. The earned some money as a saleswoman in a department store where they will receive the offer one day to act as a mannequin. Laura makes the acquaintance of Elfie, a former model who explains to her as a young, good-looking woman to prosperity and material security passes: The easiest way to luxury is horizontally ( "The easiest way to luxury horizontally "). Laura internalized this advice and without much trouble and affectation the lover of William Brockton, the owner of the modeling agency. Her sister Peg, the poor, but happy lives with her ​​Nick, Laura and condemned their immoral lifestyles. Nick, who has high ethical standards, Laura throws out of the house, because it was an inappropriate use of his little daughter.

A short time later, Laura falls in love with Jack Madison reporter who is sent soon after for some time abroad. Laura promises him to leave Brockton and to wait for him. However, things do not develop as simple as the Laura had hoped. Instead of generosity Willard responds with a court order to disclose all gifts and of the recovery of the rent for the apartment in which Laura has not lived charged. Without own savings Laura must return to work in a department store. At the same time her mother is terminally ill and no one has the money to buy the drugs. So Laura returns to Brockton, who has given to appropriate compensatory measures, the cost of treatment. The moment Jack is coming back to New York and misunderstand the whole situation. Everything goes wrong, both Jack Brockton leave Laura and at the end the young woman stands burned and without a roof over their head on Christmas Eve in front of the door of her sister Peg. Both fall into the arms and appears as a short time later Jack miraculously in the apartment. Laura regret in the presence of all their sins publicly, Jack forgives her and they married.


Heart at the crossroads based on a stage play of 1909 about crime and punishment and in 1931 actually completely outdated by the thematically. MGM decided nevertheless, the substance to film again and saw it as the ideal vehicle for Constance Bennett. Bennett was only a short time before become with common clay into a major star. She came from a famous acting dynasty, and had already been a household name in silent film days before it blew surprising in 1925 to a millionaire. After the divorce in 1929 she returned to Hollywood and was able to build on the friendship with both Louis B. Mayer and Irving Thalberg. MGM toyed with the idea of winning Bennett for a long-term contract and tested with heart at the crossroads of the potential of Bennett at the box office.

Today the film is primarily known for one of the first performances by Clark Gable, who played Bennett's brother in law. The role was small, but the test screenings were sensational in terms of Gable. Encouraged by the positive response received Gable a long-term contract with the club, and was towards the end of the year, according to appearances in 12 films, already the biggest male star of MGM.

The Easiest Way as well as The Common Law typical of the genre of the confession movie, which mainly attracted the female audiences during the Great Depression. Mostly, the films revolve around the problems of women who get into trouble through a love story with a characteristically weak man. At the end of the women end up on the street to and their children and / or family to feed themselves. Helen Hayes in The Sin of Madelon Claudet or Marlene Dietrich in Blonde Venus varied the subject. Often the women were also the lover of older men or went unworthy pursuits according to survive: Barbara Stanwyck in Shop Worn, Tallulah Bankhead in Faithless or Helen Twelvetrees in Unashamed. Mostly, the women tried to hide their children illegitimate origin: Kay Francis in I Found Stella Parrish and Give Me Your Heart, Irene Dunne in The Secret of Madame Blanche, Ruth Chatterton in Madame X, and Frisco Jenny or Ann Harding in The Life of Vergie Winters.

Theatrical Release

The cost of production amounted to 310,000 U.S. dollars. At the box office, the film was moderately successful and played in the United States a sum of 654,000 U.S. dollars, to which further 249,000 dollars came from foreign markets. With a cumulative total box office earnings of 903,000 U.S. dollars, however, the studio was able to record only a meager profit of 193,000 U.S. dollars at the end.