(Review originally written at 11 November 2006)

I must admit that I was rather worried when I began watching this movie. The movie started of like a melodramatic soap-like movie, with a bad visual look and Bette Davis looked ridicules to say the least. However about half way through the movie I finally began to see where the movie was heading to and the story actually turned out to be rather original, gripping and effective.

The story at first seems to be rather formulaic; An ugly duckling turns into a beautiful swan. And in the first halve the movie unfortunately also IS formulaic. When the main character gets on a cruise and meets her first(?) and true love, I was worried that the movie would turn into a typical '30's/'40's melodramatic and formulaic love-story, like dozens of were made, in mainly the '30's and early '40's. The movie however took some original and surprising twists after that. The love-story is not your average love-story were girl meets boy and they start falling in love. The movie and its story is multiple layered; The man (Paul Henreid) is married to a woman who is sort of in the same situation as the girl (Bette Davis) he falls in love with used to be; a timid, insecure woman. The man also has a daughter to whom the girls is really starting to relate to. What at first starts as a simple no-worries romance turns later into a deep bond between a man and a woman, who understand- and help each other. 'Faith' brings them together multiple times later throughout the movie and they always keep feeling a sort of connection and love for each other.

The story doesn't always flow well and too often things occur too sudden. But oh well, that is sort of fitting for early '40's style of film-making. So if you've seen more movies from this time period, this hardly should be a complaint.

This is really the sort of movie that is carried by its characters. So it definitely helps that the cast is a solid one. Bette Davis and Paul Henreid were good as the main characters and Gladys Cooper was great as the tough and strict mother who is not too happy with her 'unwanted' youngest daughter (the Bette Davis role). Smaller roles are there for Claude Rains and Mary Wickes, who always was surprising good and enjoyable in her role.

Despite the fact that this is a movie from 1942 it looks like it was made in the early '30's. It makes this movie also perhaps look way more outdated than it in fact really is. The production values really aren't too high and it shows on the screen. I also wasn't too fond of the melodramatic musical score from Max Steiner. I agree with Bette Davis on this issue; it was distracting. Ironicaly Steiner won an (and the only) Oscar for this movie. The movie was nominated for 2 more Oscars for Bette Davis' and Gladys Cooper's performances.

In my book not a classic must-see, the first halve and the production values of the movie aren't good enough for that but the story and cast compensates a lot. It makes the movie at times intriguing and always interesting and effective.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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