What might have been a trite soap opera is elevated to the status of superior emotional drama by a wise script, sensitive direction, and an Oscar-winning performance by de Havilland, her first and the first for an actress at Paramount. Covering 27 years in the life and times of a woman who
loved neither wisely nor well, it begins during the blitz on London. Middle-aged de Havilland is an air raid warden and marches her beat with confidante Culver, a peer of the realm and another warden. When she learns that a handsome US pilot, Lund, is in town, her thoughts flash back to an earlier
time in her life, when her love affair with a dashing pilot (also played by Lund) resulted in a disastrous pregnancy.
Lund, who had already established himself on Broadway, made his film debut here. An interesting sidelight is that de Havilland hadn't worked for two years. She'd been on suspension from Warner Bros. and was trying to break a contract which they claimed included all of her suspension time. She
sued the studio successfully and the result was a law that limited studios to a seven-year agreement with an actor, with no clause regarding suspensions. That became known as the "de Havilland Decision," and actors have thanked her ever since. Leisen and de Havilland had worked together in HOLD
BACK THE DAWN, and when she asked for him to direct, he passed on it at first, then was convinced when the studio gave him script approval as well as several other concessions. It was sentimental but never bathetic. Leisen knew that de Havilland had given a star performance and on the wrap day
gifted her with a bracelet that featured a mini-Oscar. His prophecy was on the money, and she took the Oscar home at the next awards ceremony. Brackett's story was nominated for a statuette, but that was it from the Academy. Audiences loved it, and credit must be given to the studio for attempting
a "soft" picture at the time. No one expected it to do as well as it did. Good editing by Macrorie and Victor Young's music kept the mood swings right on target. Miss de Havilland's winning of the Oscar was a surprise to many who had placed their bets on the formidable quartet of losers in 1946.
They were Celia Johnson for BRIEF ENCOUNTER, Jane Wyman in THE YEARLING, Jennifer Jones for DUEL IN THE SUN, and Rosalind Russell as SISTER KENNY.
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- Review: What might have been a trite soap opera is elevated to the status of superior emotional drama by a wise script, sensitive direction, and an Oscar-winning performance by de Havilland, her first and the first for an actress at Paramount. Covering 27 years in… (more)