In her second US film (following her smash debut in INTERMEZZO), Bergman plays a long-suffering, sympathetic, and misunderstood housekeeper for an American businessman, Baxter, whose wife, Wray, has just died. She lovingly raises his four sons but leaves for Europe when Baxter's financial
plight deepens, seeking other employment at his request. Some years later, when Baxter is again on his feet, he asks Bergman to return. She finds the sons almost grown and delighted to have her back. One of the sons, Downs, has taken a bride, Hayward, who is a scheming, vicious young lady who
insists upon running the household. In one of her better performances, Hayward degrades Bergman, cons Baxter into believing she is a sweet young thing, and cheats on Downs by attempting to seduce another brother, Denning, who will have nothing to do with her. The internecine warfare between
Bergman and Hayward culminates in an out-and-out brawl and Baxter unwittingly sides with Hayward, who showers crocodile tears on his shoulder (with a telling close-up as she displays a wicked smile over his shoulder while he comforts her). Hayward's malicious personality, however, is revealed to a
visiting aunt, Westley, and Hayward is exposed as an uncontrollable vixen. Baxter finally admits his love for Bergman as the film ends. An excellent character study of a family in transition and growth (from the panic of 1907 to WW I), long a pet project of producer Robert Sherwood (no relation to
the playwright) who purchased the rights to the Charles Bonner novel and held on to them until Columbia allowed him to venture into his first production. Ratoff's direction is clear and crisp and standout performances are rendered by the heroic Bergman and the cuckolding Hayward, who begged Ratoff
for the part of spoiler after having played nothing but sweet young things.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: In her second US film (following her smash debut in INTERMEZZO), Bergman plays a long-suffering, sympathetic, and misunderstood housekeeper for an American businessman, Baxter, whose wife, Wray, has just died. She lovingly raises his four sons but leaves f… (more)