Tuesday, May 21, 2002


I saw this for the first time several years ago, before I was truly an old movie fan and I was bored silly. I may not have even watched it all the way to the end. Either that or I fell asleep because I don't remember the ending at all. I watched it again and was pleasantly surprised. Walter Huston is a wealthy, middle-aged businessman who retires, seemingly at the request of his wife, so the two of them can visit Europe and begin a new and exciting life. She (Ruth Chatterton) is feeling old, though she's younger than her husband, and winds up flirting her way around the Continent. At first, it's mostly a joke to her, and when a young man (David Niven) tries to go farther than she's prepared to, she decides to settle back down. But the allure of handsome, rich, wordly men is too much for her. Huston has to deal with his wife's desires and his own more subtle and buried ones for Mary Astor, another American abroad.

This is a truly adult movie--there's no swearing, no nudity, no sex, but instead concerns about middle-aged people, morality, and mortality. It was sort of refreshing. Another interesting point is that, despite being made after the Code clampdown, it's fairly explicit about the fact that everyone is sleeping around. Huston is the best I've ever seen him--I wish he had played some of the more serious Frank Morgan parts where he's an older man romancing a younger woman; he's much more credible than Morgan usually was. Astor is lovely and very good. I wasn't as crazy about Chatterton, but it may have been because she was playing a fairly unsympathetic part. And John Payne (looking beautiful) has a small role, his first ever, I think. Definitely recommended.

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