Since You Went Away

Focusing on the plight of those left behind when the soldiers went off to fight in WWII, SINCE YOU WENT AWAY was a smash hit with audiences on the home front, grossing well over $4 million at a time when movie ticket prices were as low as 25 cents. Based on a collection of letters written by Ohio newspaper columnist Margaret Buell Wilder to her husband...read more

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Focusing on the plight of those left behind when the soldiers went off to fight in WWII, SINCE YOU WENT AWAY was a smash hit with audiences on the home front, grossing well over $4 million at a time when movie ticket prices were as low as 25 cents. Based on a collection of letters written

by Ohio newspaper columnist Margaret Buell Wilder to her husband fighting overseas, which Wilder first published in her column, then collected in a book, and finally rewrote as a screen story, SINCE YOU WENT AWAY is a long, episodic, but always interesting film scripted by producer David O.

Selznick from Wilder's adaptation. The film focuses on the wartime life of Colbert and her two daughters (Jones and a teenaged Temple, the latter making her first screen appearance after a layoff of a couple of years) after Colbert's husband leaves his family and his job in the advertising

business to go off to fight in the war. Jones is in love with a soldier--Walker, a corporal, who returns from the service to romance her. (Jones and Walker were married in real life at the time, and, though they divorced a year later, their off-screen love is still evident here). Also figuring in

the proceedings are Cotten, a family friend and Navy lieutenant who lends his moral support to Colbert and never takes advantage of her loneliness; Wooley, Colbert's acerbic boarder, whose sarcasm provides the film's lighter moments; and Soda, the family's scene-stealing English bulldog.

SINCE YOU WENT AWAY unfolds its loosely structured story realistically--even the battle scenes lack the phony heroics common in WWII films--and the film's three hours pass quickly, sped by its interesting assortment of characters, touchingly portrayed by the cast, its well-written script by

Selznick, and its high level of technical accomplishment.

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