There's a funny joke behind the promotional poster of The Sisters. Originally, it read "Bette Davis and Errol Flynn in The Sisters," but the leading lady brought the innuendo to the studio's attention, saying it was too provocative and wouldn't be passed by the Code. Miss Davis's name remained the only one above the title, and Errol Flynn was bumped down to below. Was she looking out for the studio or did she want to be the only one above the title? We'll never know, but it's entertaining.
Speaking of entertaining, this movie is a favorite of mine of old black-and-white tearjerkers. I could not stop crying throughout the whole ninety minutes! It's a romantic period piece, full of pretty fashions that show off Bette Davis's figure, beautiful Gibson hairdos, and melodramatic plot points. If you liked The Old Maid or Enchantment, you'll love this one. Just be sure to bring your Kleenexes.
Henry Travers and Beulah Bondi are married and live above their drugstore. They have their hands full with their three grown daughters, Bette Davis, Anita Louise, and Jane Bryan, as they all have fashion and love on their minds. At an election night ball, Bette's boyfriend, Dick Foran, is about to propose. However, a stranger in town, Errol Flynn, catches her eye and sweeps her off her feet. Bette ditches Dick and runs away with Errol, much to her parent's disapproval. She doesn't care if he's taking her away from her family, or that he has very little income and an unreliable profession. He's Errol Flynn!
It's pretty ironic that Jane Bryan, who plays Bette's daughter in the following year's The Old Maid, plays her sister in this movie. It's her character who helps soothe Dick's broken heart, and she marries him shortly after Bette leaves home. What is superficial Anita's fate? Alan Hale is sweet, but he's no Errol Flynn, so her heart doesn't really go pitter-pat when she's with him. He's kind, though, and very rich; so she might be tempted to become a good man's wife rather than be the only unmarried sister.
In the supporting cast, you'll also see Patric Knowles, Donald Crisp, Harry Davenport, and Paul Harvey. I'm not going to tell you any more about the plot, since it's one of those great melodramas that unfold best as you're watching it. The story is interesting, but it's the acting that really carries this movie and brings it to the upper tier. You'll get to see a classic Bette Davis performance in The Sisters, with tears and sacrifice. There's no Margo Channing in this role, but tons of Aunt Charlotte. She cries, and you cry, and you feel that you've been dragged along with her troubles. Errol Flynn also takes on a different role, and he masters it. He's not a swashbuckling hero in this one with a winning smile and fencing skills. He's a brooding writer who doesn't know how to settle down, and although he breaks hearts, he feels pain in the process.
Rent this oldie if you haven't seen it yet. I hadn't even heard of it, but now it's one I'll be sure to come back to when I need a good cry.