(Review originally written at 28 August 2008)

This is a great multi-layered drama, from director William Wyler, in which the story takes several directions. It's about reconciliation and true happiness in life and love, with added to that some wonderful acting performances.

The movie features some great and wonderful looking cinematography from Polish born director of photography Rudolph Maté, who was at the top of his game in the '30's and '40's mostly, though he also did some memorable stuff in the '20's already. The cinematography is quite fresh and original (for '30's drama standards at least). Rudolph Maté received a total of 5 Oscar nominations in his career, all in the '40's, so this movie not included, but he won none of them.

Also the subtle little genre musical score from Alfred Newman is great and gets used in all of the right places.

It's a great written movie with some wonderful dialog. Additional dialog for this movie was being written by the older brother of director William Wyler, Robert Wyler. It really paid off. Like all great '30's drama's it hasn't got a formulaic and over-dramatic story. It isn't afraid to show life as it is with all of its imperfections. Normally these type of '30's movies always show a fairytale like love story, of which this movie is the quite opposite of this all.

The movie of course also gets effective thanks to its acting performances. Walter Huston and Ruth Chatterton perhaps aren't among the best known '30's actors but they are absolutely great in the movie. Besides playing their roles dramatic they also know to throw in some subtle comical acting as well. The supporting cast features actors such as Mary Astor and David Niven in it. Needless to say that the acting of the movie is really one of the stronger elements. There are several multiple Oscar nominated and winning actors in this movie, sometimes even in some really small roles. Maria Ouspenskaya who has about a 5 minutes role in this movie even actually received an Oscar nominated for her role in this.

Funny thing about most '30's and also '40's movies is that no matter how great the first halve is, the second halve is always an amazing lot better. In the second halve of this movie the movie it's drama takes its best and most effective shape. It's a real humane movie with realistic events and situations. Surely parts of the movie should be recognizable to all of us in one way or another.

It's a cliché but they really don't make them like this anymore.


About Frank Veenstra

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