Wednesday, May 10, 2006


A so-so soap opera with all concerned operating at about half-speed. Barbara Stanwyck, in a role that might have suited Bette Davis better, plays a woman with two sons who was recently widowed (although the movie is set in 1942, her husband's death is not war-related). Her meddling mother (Lucile Watson) who herself has more or less remained in mourning for years after the death of her own husband, is upset that Stanwyck wants to doff her black clothes so quickly. Stanwyck is clearly interested in having a romantic life again, though not with oafish family friend Jerome Cowan, who comes on to her in the car. Her buddy Eve Arden takes her on a skiing trip and, when she has a minor accident on the slopes, George Brent comes swooping in to help her. He's a homefront Army major on vacation and eventually the two hit it off; even though she's not quite ready to commit to a relationship, they do begin dating, which starts the winds of scandal brewing among her friends. When he is called up for overseas duty on New Year's Eve, she decides on the spur of the moment to go off to New York to spend his last couple of days with him (implying an intimate overnight stay), and this causes her sons to run away. Things are resolved with the unexpectedly compassionate help of Watson, though a 21st century audience might not be happy with the Production Code outcome. Stanwyck is OK, coming off best in her teary moments; Brent is as wooden as usual, though he has just enough surface charm so that we can believe that Stanwyck might fall for him, particularly over the slimy Cowan and the safe but boring lawyer, Warner Anderson. Bobby Cooper and Scotty Beckett are fine as the kids, and John Ridgely has a small role as Arden's husband. My favorite performances are from the two "dragon ladies" in the cast: Watson as the opinionated mother (who has a great Christmas Eve scene as she sneaks into Stanwyck's kitchen and discovers to her dismay that Brent has been accepted into the family circle) and, in a much smaller role, Cecil Cunningham as a gossipy friend. Sadly, Arden doesn't have nearly enough to do except to stand solidly by Stanwyck. [TCM]

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