Lupino took the Best Actress Award from the New York Film Critics for her role in THE HARD WAY and she should have been nominated for an Oscar. The part was originally offered to Bette Davis (who declined), which was appropriate since Lupino often referred to herself as "the poor man's
Bette Davis." She plays a woman in the small industrial town of Greenhill who is married to a lummox, Bohnen, and living on the edge of poverty. Determined to keep her sister, Leslie, out of the trap of early marriage, pregnancy, and a wasted life, Lupino pushes the girl, who is a mildly talented
singer/dancer, into performing. When Morgan and Carson, a couple of song-and-dance men, come to Greenhill to perform in the local vaudeville house, Carson is attracted to Leslie, and Lupino successfully schemes to get the two together. They team up, cutting Morgan out of the act, and go on to some
success. But Lupino still isn't satisfied and she persuades her sister to dump Carson and do a solo act. Leslie agrees and her star rises fast, but she is stunned to learn that Carson, despondent over losing Leslie, has killed himself. Lupino continues to push Leslie, who finally rebels, shutting
Lupino out of her life, leaving her big sister with nothing to live for.
A depressing and bitter drama, it is nevertheless extremely well done and features a superb performance by Lupino, quite possibly the best of her career, which encompassed nearly 60 films. This was the first pairing of Dennis Morgan and Jack Carson, and they worked so well together that they would
be teamed in nine more films over the course of the decade, including TWO GUYS FROM MILWAUKEE and SHINE ON HARVEST MOON. Carson is wonderful here as the hale and hearty guy with a sensitive soul beneath all the bravura. Good work in all the small roles and a sharp, though sometimes overplayed,
screenplay by Viertel (Deborah Kerr's long-time husband) and Fuchs. Mistakenly regarded as a "woman's" picture, it transcends gender and stands on its own as a fine piece of craftsmanship of a universal theme: living a vicarious life when your own is so drab that you can barely stand it. Tunes
include "Was I Blue?" "Goodnight, My Darling," "I Love To Dance."
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- Rating: NR
- Review: Lupino took the Best Actress Award from the New York Film Critics for her role in THE HARD WAY and she should have been nominated for an Oscar. The part was originally offered to Bette Davis (who declined), which was appropriate since Lupino often referred… (more)