Tuesday, May 28, 2002


No, Stanwyck does not go sapphic here; the title word "gay" refers to the family name of the sisters, Gaylord. It's an odd title; the phrase is never used to describe the three sisters and they are certainly not very happy through most of the film. It's mostly a melodramatic "women's" picture about the three sisters (orphaned as children), their romantic entanglements, and their fight to save their estate from George Brent, a possibly untrustworthy real estate tycoon (though because he becomes the leading man, he can't come off as *too* unscrupulous). It does have a few comic moments, even a little bit of slapstick--one scene involving the sisters, a gang of reporters, and a firehose made me laugh out loud, partly because it was so unexpected.

Barbara Stanwyck plays the oldest sister who was once briefly married to Brent, having tricked him into a quickie marriage as a way of getting some inheritance money. Geraldine Fitzgerald and Nancy Coleman are the other sisters, who wind up battling over a man, Gig Young. This is the movie where Gig Young plays Gig Young (he took his screen name from the character), so I chuckled when one of the sisters said, "I can't help it! I *love* Gig Young!" Young is good, but everyone else feels a bit at sea, perhaps partly due to the odd twists the plot takes. It's difficult to like anyone here. Stanwyck's character mostly comes off as cold and conniving and even when she has our symapthies, we don't whole-heartedly *like* her. Stanwyck is OK in the part, but the role would have fit Bette Davis better--it was first offered to her and it's certainly of a piece with her other late 30's-early 40's Warners films. Brent is mostly just stoic; like Stanwyck, his character has to be seen as unsympathetic at times and sympathetic at other times. That could have made for some interesting character development, but between the writing and the acting, the character never really feels fully developed or consistent. It's a good looking movie, with many scenes taking place in the sisters' fabulous home in Manhattan. And the odd comic touch now and then kept me on my feet (metaphorically).

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