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By Your Leave

By Your Leave(1934)

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Suddenly overwhelmed by a mid-life crisis, insurance executive Henry Smith tells his wife Ellen that he needs change in his life and suggests that they take separate vacations for a week. Although hurt, Ellen, a contented suburban housewife, agrees, and Henry leaves for New York. There, Henry, who has been unable to procure a date, visits an Ivy League alumni club and meets Skeets, a polished drunk. While Henry and Skeets pursue Broadway showgirl Gloria Dawn, Ellen sulks at home with Whiffen, the housekeeper. Eventually Ellen also goes to New York, where a friend re-introduces her to explorer David McKenzie, a mutual childhood acquaintance. Henry, meanwhile, wakes from a drunken stupor in his hotel and, with Skeets, returns to the Broadway theater to meet Gloria and her friend Merle. While Henry is rejected and left behind by Merle, Ellen attends a lecture given by David and is mesmerized by his tales of exotic travel. Discouraged by his romantic failures, Henry allows his best friend, playboy Freddie Wilkins, to arrange a date for him with a paid escort. At Freddie's insistence, Henry prepares his hotel room for his date, unaware that Freddie is on his way to seduce Ellen. Henry nervously greets Andree, his young, eager hostess, and whisks her away for a night on the town. After dismissing Freddie, Ellen meets David for dinner and admires his yacht, on which he is sailing the next day. Terrified of Andree's sexual flirtation, Henry sneaks out of his hotel room and returns home. In Ellen's hotel room, meanwhile, David confesses his love and tries to convince her to travel abroad with him. Unsure about her feelings, Ellen promises David an answer the next day and goes home. Soon after, Andree shows up at the Smith house demanding to know why Henry deserted her. With quick thinking, Henry foists Andree on Freddie, then confesses to Ellen that his "vacation" was a disaster. Convinced of her husband's love, Ellen telephones David and tells him that she is staying in the suburbs.