In a magazine with some of his work in it, wealthy and influential Stanford White comments on the model on the cover. When he sees her in the flesh he asks that she be brought to his house. Meeting her there he talks to her and the two quickly kiss. He asks her mother not to bring her back but he cannot help himself and soon falls into an affair with her as she falls in love with him. The young and innocent Evelyn Nesbit also attracts the attention of the newly rich but arrogant Harry Thaw, who charms her despite herself. With the attentions of two so wealthy men, it is no wonder that Evelyn is affected by it and the two men are brought into conflict, neither particularly caring for the other anyway.
The title made me think this film would be a light romantic comedy from the 1950's that would be distracting but not that interesting. Watching it proved to me why I should never turn away a film on the grounds of such sweeping judgements because I found it much more interesting, engaging and morally darker than I expected it to be. The plot is supposedly a true story and, not knowing the total truth of this I can only assume that it takes liberties in the way that any "true" film does regardless though, it only adds to the value that it is based on a real case. It sees a sweet young girl be torn between two men who are both far beyond the level in society that she could have expected. The text after the titles give away that this story is leading up to a court case of some sort but the development is still good and I found the basic facts to be interesting and made all the better by the subtexts and character development that the script brought out. The character dynamics worked well but also the way the characters (specifically Stanford and Evelyn) grew and changed across the film.
Responding to this the cast were surprisingly impressive. Well, perhaps that is unfair to paint them all with this brush because the person that surprised and impressed me was Joan Collins. Maybe it is because I am the "Dynasty" generation but I never really rated her as an actress, so here I was quite taken by her range, her subtlety and her awareness of her character. It is not a perfect performance but she is a big part of the material working at more than just the narrative level. Milland is not as good because his character isn't as good but he is still convincing and seems bought into his character. Granger is betrayed by the character and falters as a result the script puts him in one place at the start and leaves him there with little to do he is the "conclusion" to the story but other than that he is of little interest. Support is solid enough but the film belongs to Collins and, to a lesser degree, Milland, and both do well with it.
Overall an engaging and interesting film that is a lot more morally complex that I expected from the period. The basic facts of the story are good but it is the character development that makes the film interesting and the main two actors respond well to it to produce a solid film that I found interesting, a bit melodramatic but well worth a look.
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