1 January 2005 | Handlinghandel
An All-star Cast of Character Actors
This begins in an elegant manner and is a serious film. It has a fantastic cast, almost entirely made up of character actors. Edward Arnold could be the only one ho ever starred in A pictures, though Fay Bainter, in the title role here, could have been said to also.
Bainter's character lives in a bubble. She's a rich widow in Washington, DC, who refuses to pay attention to the sounds of W.W.II, right up through Pearl Harbor. Her daughter (Jean Rogers, not quite believable as a child of privilege) meets a military man, the young Van Johnson. Her alcoholic son is sent off to war by influential Arnold, rather than disgrace Bainter, whom he loves.
It works well, even to the end, though it becomes less plausible as it moves toward its resolution. Would patrician Bainter/Hadley really embrace the working class mother-in-law of her daughter to such a degree? Seems unlikely.
There are strange overtones of homosexuality in this movie. At its start we see a bouquet being delivered to Bainter. It evolves that the woman who cuts her hair sent it. Everyone wonders why. Her friend Spring Byington says, "Maybe she's musical!" and all laugh. My understanding from older friends is that this was a code for gay/lesbian in the 1940s.
This could be my imagination, but the bouquet is never explained and w never again hear about, let alone see, the hair stylist.
Regardless, it's an elegant movie that, with a bigger budget, could have been a very fine one.