- The expressionist drama by Sophie Treadwell, produced and directed by Arthur Hopkins with scene designs by Robert Edmond Jones, opened on 7 September 1928 at the Plymouth Theatre and ran for 93 performances. Having worked as both a "stunt" and "sob sister" journalist, Treadwell had followed with interest the 1927 trial of Ruth Snyder and Judd Gray for the murder of Snyder's husband, events which became the basis for her play about a sensitive working woman (played by Zita Johann) who marries her boss to escape her insensitive mother and the dehumanizing effects of urban life. She falls for a younger man (the yet-unknown Clark Gable) and, motivated by the dream of romance, kills her husband. The lover escapes, but she is brought to trial and executed. It was the stylization of settings and lighting with the staccato sounds of modern city life, the mechanized characterizations, and spare, rhythmic dialogue that made the slender plot so compelling. Not only is the play frequently revived, but it has remained in print.
The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. James Fisher.