Amanda (Norma Shearer) and Elyot (Robert Montgomery) -- a witty, sophisticated married couple -- divorce and marry other mates. Amanda chooses stuffy Victor (Reginald Denny), while Elyot's selection is the tiresome Sibyl (Una Merkel). Coincidentally, both newlywed couples honeymoon at the same Swiss hotel -- in adjoining suites, in fact. Amanda and Elyot realize anew that the flame of their love has never been extinguished, but when both slip off for a lover's tryst, they fall into their old pattern of ceaseless bickering. When Victor and Sibyl catch up with their erring mates, they themselves begin arguing. Once the point has been made that Amanda and Elyot deserve each other and that Victor and Sibyl are likewise perfectly matched, this elegant comedy of manners draws to a quiet close. A fairly faithful adaptation of the classic Noël Coward stage play (virtually all of the witticisms, notably "Some women should be struck regularly -- like gongs" are left intact, though we truly miss "You're looking lovely in this damned moonlight"), Private Lives is played with such polish and expertise that we're willing to overlook the fact that only one of the four principals (Reginald Denny) is genuinely British.
by Hal Erickson synopsis