15 October 2003 | F Gwynplaine MacIntyre
Great gimmick, feeble film
'Always Together' is a low-budget Warner Brothers drama with one of the cleverest gimmicks I've ever seen in any movie. That gimmick is probably the only reason why you'll want to see this film. Unfortunately, the gimmick is used in the service of a turgidly dull and unsympathetic plot line. If only this gimmick had been saved for a better movie!
The plot is simple, dull and implausible all at the same go. Jane and Don are impoverished newlyweds. Although they badly need funds, Jane is convinced that money is the root of all evil. A wealthy eccentric, dying from one of those convenient B-movie diseases, bequeaths a million smackeroonies to Jane. She accepts the aforementioned smackeroonies with unlikely reluctance, but without telling Don. Then the dying millionaire recovers, and he wants his money back.
The lead roles in this film are played by actors who never attained stardom, mainly because (how can I put this tactfully?) they stink. As the millionaire with the boomerang bankroll, Cecil Kellaway is a bit less twinkle-twee than usual. Ernest Truex (who usually annoys me) is impressive in a supporting role. A special dungeon in the deepest circle of Hell is reserved for Chester Clute, the most annoying actor in the entire history of Hollywood, who plays here a (much too long) brief role in the proceedings.
Oh, yeah: that gimmick. Like the character played by Mia Farrow in 'The Purple Rose of Cairo' (a much better movie than this one), Jane tries to forget her troubles by going to the movies. Conveniently, the actions of the characters she watches on screen at the matinees seem to parallel the situations which Jane is experiencing in her own life. Now here's the great part: the characters in these films-within-the-film are played by actual movie stars, instantly recognisable. Humphrey Bogart does a brief scene, weeping near a windowpane. Errol Flynn gets a look-in, as do Alexis Smith and Jack Carson. 'Always Together' is a Warners film, so it's not surprising that the actors in these films-within-the-film are all actors under contract to Warners: the impressive part is that they're all Warners STARS, rather than merely contract players. This reminds me of a running feature in the TV series 'M*A*S*H', which was produced by 20th Century-Fox: whenever the 'M*A*S*H' unit had a movie night, the movie was always (by some amazing coincidence) an old 20th Century-Fox film.
This sludge was written by Henry and Phoebe Ephron, a couple of hacks who were deservedly forgotten ... but who are now well-known again due to the recent prominence of their daughter Nora Ephron. I'll rate 'Always Together' 3 points out of 10, solely for the brief performances of the famous actors in the films-within-the-film.