Director Mitchell Leisen’s 1946 drama stars Olivia de Havilland in one of her best performances, winning her first Best Actress Oscar as an unmarried mother who regrets giving away her son (John Lund in his début) to be adopted in order to avoid a scandal.
De Havilland becomes a cosmetics queen, pretends to be his aunt to see him growing up, and years later meets grown-up Lund in London where he is in uniform and wanting to marry. Enter Roland Culver, who is excellent as a British nobleman and de Havilland’s old flame, who may be able to reconcile them.
This is a high-class weepie soap opera with a daft, old-fashioned melodramatic plot reminiscent of Stella Dallas, made with great style and discernment by director Leisen. It is very well crafted in the screenplay by Charles Brackett and Jacques Théry, the cinematography by Daniel L Fapp, and the score by Victor Young.
Lund has two roles – creepily as well as de Havilland’s son, he is also her lover, both flyboys in different world wars. Also in the cast are Mary Anderson, Philip Terry and Bill Goodwin.
It was de Havilland’s return to filming after two years away, during which time she successfully sued Warner Bros over contract ‘slavery’. It is the first of her two Oscars, the other being for The Heiress. She was also nominated for Gone with the Wind (1939), Hold Back the Dawn (1941) and The Snake Pit (1948).
© Derek Winnert 2016 Classic Movie Review 4179
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