I didn't quite know how I wanted to approach writing about Possession. I didn't want to do a comparison between Personal Property (the remake) simply because I don't think it is fair to compare two movies made during two very different movie making eras. The films were only made 6 years apart, but the Hay's code was implemented during that time changing nearly everything about the film industry. With that said, Possession exudes Pre-Code themes. Not only is the film a bit naughty, but the characters face depression era problems that I am sure audiences of that time could relate to.
Robert Montgomery plays a London socialite who is just released from prison. His father and brother shun him while his mother dotes and frets about his future. There is a brief moment where Montgomery talks about prison and how he never wants to go back there. His eyes almost look haunted by the mere mention of going back to prison. His experience isn't glossed over like it might have been done after the code.
Montgomery gets an honest job working as a bailiff. He is placed in a wealthy debtor's home (Irene Purcell) until she can pay her debts. Coincidentally, Purcell is engaged to Montgomery's dolt of a brother. She too is faced with real problems, she has debts to pay and like many women during the depression... she uses her only real assets in order to secure a financially secure future. (Neither her nor Montgomery's brother know that the other one is broke) Montgomery and Purcell fall for each other ( more out of lust in the beginning) but eventually they realize the attachment is something very close to love.
I was going to try to not make this post all about how much I adore Robert Montgomery, but I find that very hard after watching Possession. Montgomery pre-codes are among my favorites because he was so very good at being naughty. One of my favorite parts of the film is the morning after Montgomery and Purcell have had their pre-code fun. The maid has just collected Purcell's undergarments from the floor of the bedroom (they were tossed everywhere). She takes them down stairs and is surprised to see that the underthings need mending... Montgomery gives her a side glance and smiles. Like I said, I love when this guy misbehaves. His eyes always sparkle when he is acting the fox.
Montgomery's little boss checks on how well Montgomery did while working for Purcell. She confirms that she had no complaints. The little boss man says that he always likes his men to give satisfaction... Cue Rob Montgomery with wide eyes in perfect double entendre style.... After such heightened anticipation... I too was very satisfied with Man in Possession!