(Review originally written at 31 October 2008)

Thing with these '40's dramatic movies is that they are always so melodramatic. The drama in these type of movies just never seem to seize to end and it often takes some very epic proportions. It at the same time always makes these movies incredibly powerful to watch, when done correctly. "In This Our Life" is such a movie that features some very strong drama, not in the least thanks to its great cast.

The movie has a fine story that focuses on a family and the two sisters of the family in particular, played by Bette Davis and Olivia de Havilland. Of course quite ridicules and unconvincing to think that de Havilland and Davis are supposed to be sisters within this movie. I mean, de Havilland is far too beautiful for that, when comparing her looks to Davis'. Nevertheless you'll buy it, thanks to the acting performances and Davis' in particular. It perhaps is one of the most rotten and best roles out of her career.

The first halve of the movie is mostly a romantic-dramatic one, while the second halve of the movie focuses more on the family dramatic aspects. It's not like you're watching two separate movies though, both parts are connected to each other and both are important and relevant for the movie its story.

It's a movie filled with all kinds of dramatic themes and I must say that some of them even surprised me a bit when considering this movie got made back in 1942. The movie seemed to be ahead of its time with some of its plot elements, such as the treatment of Afro-Americans within American society and then in particular also by the law. With this, this movie must have been quite controversial for its time by showing how the black Americans got treated by the legal system.

You can of course also leave it up to John Huston to tell a relatively simple and small story in a big, epic, dramatic way. Before he became a successful director he was a successful writer who wrote the screenplays for some great successful classics, so I think the fact that he was such a talented writer also had to with it that he was such a great director as well. Besides writing and directing he also starred as an actor in quite a few movies, including some classics. He also plays a very small role in this movie as a bartender.

A great powerful melodramatic movie from the '40's.


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About Frank Veenstra

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