Tuesday, March 18, 2008


In England in 1940, when the fall of France to the Germans is announced, upper-crust Joan Fontaine shocks her family when she joins the Women's Auxiliary Force. While mingling with one of her new working class friends, she is set up on a blind date with the dashing Tyrone Power. They hit it off, even though he goes off on a rant about the upper classes without knowing her background. In fact, when she gets a one-week leave, she runs off with him for a little romantic holiday, though she shames herself out of going all the way (more due to the Hollywood Production Code than the character as written, I suspect). After his old friend Thomas Mitchell comes to visit, Fontaine discovers that Power is an Army deserter, frustrated with defending an outdated class system. This causes a rift between them, but after Power has an impassioned talk with a minister (Alexander Knox), he decides to turn himself in and talks the military police into giving him an extra hour at liberty to meet one last time with Fontaine. Before he can get to her, he is seriously injured helping a woman and her child during an air raid. In the hospital, Fontaine shows up and they get married, and the film ends with a rather over-the-top propaganda speech just before the air raid sirens start blaring again. The movie plays out like a romance that wants to be propaganda, or vice versa, and the elements don't always mesh well, but Power and Fontaine make a good couple and the A-level production values are appreciated. The wonderful Gladys Cooper doesn't get nearly enough screen time as a haughty aunt; other dependable character actors who don't get enough to do include Nigel Bruce, Sara Allgood, Henry Stephenson, and Melville Cooper. [FMC]

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