THEY WON’T BELIEVE ME ( 1947 )

“I discovered what went with orchids was a game  of hide and seek with fate played in off-beat night-clubs, out of the way bars, remote restaurants.  A game I never had a chance of winning.

GREER YOUNG HAYWARD

It’s 1947 and the movie is told in voice-overs and flashbacks. You know what THAT means: our hero’s fate is sealed. He is doomed. This time he’s not the bland and vanilla dad, smoking a pipe and wearing elbow-patched sweaters, dispensing fatherly advice In Father Knows Best. Nor is he the long arm of the law, underplaying his role in Crossfire so much that he almost disappears. Nope. Here, Robert Young is a suave ‘playa’ in THEY WON’T BELIEVE ME.

My review has the teensiest bit of spoilers, but really not enough to ruin the film for you. See the movie, watch how it all plays out. I’m here to help you.

I found him sexy here as the mendacious philanderer, Larry Ballantyne. And I’m as shocked as anyone to write – “sexy” and “Robert Young” – in the same sentence. I first got an inkling of my attraction to him in my tentative baby steps towards liking Laraine Day. ( She appears with Young in Those Endearing Young Charms and he really caught my eye ). But I get the full monty here. In this movie, he’d have been happy to stay married if his wife would just let him do what he wants to do. How unreasonable can a wife be? I couldn’t hate him though. I wanted to, but I couldn’t. ( Maybe movies give me permission to like scoundrels ). Young was like Peck’s Bad Boy, just wanting what he wants. I found him likable even though he treated women scandalously. See the movie and compare him, if you will, to our dear boy, George Sanders. If Sanders had played the part, the women would have been scorched forever, and Sanders is not a very likable cad. Robert Young doesn’t put that kind of a blow torch to these women’s hearts because he doesn’t burn hot like that. But they do get hurt all the same. I kind of chuckle when he describes the “jail sentence” his marriage is:

“I understand alright. It was a contract just as if it had been typed, signed and notarized. No more Sa-turday afternoons, no Wednesday nights. No tele-phone calls, no cocktails at back tables. I was private property, covered with signs marked ‘NO TRESPASSING.” I admit I felt like a heel for a couple of weeks. When I married Gretta I kidded myself I was in love with her. But, by this time, I knew it was the money.”

Oh brother. Poor poor Larry.

Just who are the three faces of Eve in his life that he tries to juggle?

THE WIFE:

      RITA JOHNSON (  as Gretta   )

RITA JOHNSON

“I must have lost my self-respect the day I married you. I can make all the moves but the one that has any meaning.  I can’t walk out, Larry. You’ll have to do the walking.” ~ Gretta

I liked and felt sorry for Gretta. Mostly I was happy that the movie didn’t portray her as a shrilly shrewish harridan as most movie wives are portrayed; come on…you know the type…those shrewish homemakers that movies give us permission to hate to make it easier for us to root for our hero to hook up with his ‘true love.’  ( Johnson kept making me think of Maureen O’Sullivan. Ha! They were both in “The Big Clock.” Don’t you just love movie trivia? ) The Wife is rather understanding…a perfect businessman’s wife who’s attractive, a perfect hostess and non~complaining. She catches him dead to rights several times throughout the proceedings. Her blasé nature about packing his bags for him to go off with another woman made me laugh out loud. Apparently he’s done this before. In fact, I think she outright used reverse psychology on him. MY version of the dialogue is this:

HE:    Hey, don’t put the blame on me if I want to leave you.
SHE: I don’t darling, it’s my own fault. By the way, I bought you a partnership in the family business. You want it?

Next thing you know he’s on a train out west with his wife, and his girlfriend’s been unceremoniously dumped.

Is The Wife passive? Hmmmm, I don’t think so. Enabling? More like it. Does she buy him? Yeah kind of. But he didn’t have to be bought. She does offer him his freedom, sans her money and position. He should have boldly written NO SALE” with his shaving cream a la Gloria Wandrous. But he doesn’t have the character to leave.

< ( Sigh! ) > A girl’s best friend is her palomino anyway. Gretta’s horse was more loyal to her than her husband ever was.

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THE MISTRESS:

       JANE GREER (  as Janice  )

JANE GREER

I’m no ‘Saturday afternoon’ girl. I’m an ‘all-or-nothing’ girl. ~ Janice
(But is she going to drink that ice cream float?!)

I must’ve dropped a hint or two around the Internet movie groups that I’m a big Jane Greer fan. That’s my girl, folks. And here she is, 180-degrees different from her most famous role as Kathie Moffet. She’s still got those deadly killer eyes, but she’s uses them here for love, not profit. She’s ratcheted down her vamp quotient as Janice, with her upsweep hair-do and just a touch of Mary Beth Hughes-plumpness. She’s a woman in love. She’s a working girl, smart, independent, with a healthy enough self-esteem to walk away from a no-win situation with a married man. ( If only I had been that smart ). I loved that about her; she puts in for a job transfer…takes an extensive vacation tour to get away from what wasn’t going to be good for her. ( If only I had been that smart ). I love her because she was able to walk away even though she cared about him.

When he runs into her many months later, their exchange made me smile:

HE:     I’ve been meaning to look you up.
SHE:   What for?!

D’0hhhh!!! That’s tellin’ him Kathie, I mean Janice! He’s at a loss for words. When I discover he hadn’t taken her calls I thought to myself: Let me add CAD to his stellar character traits.  He’s such a coward. I could even forgive Janice still loving him. But he didn’t deserve her.

MOVIE TRIVIA ALERT: Almost twenty years later Jane Greer appears with Susan Hayward in that lovely soapy potboiler: Where Love Has Gone which you ought to see for some good campy fun. But alas, they’re only in one scene together. Hey, and speaking of Susan Hayward…

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THE OTHER MISTRESS:

       SUSAN HAYWARD (   as Verna   )

SUSAN HAYWARD ( Believe Me )

She looked like a very special kind of dynamite, neatly wrapped in nylon and silk.” ~ Larry

That she does! She’s a little spitfire. Fellas, I advise you, do NOT mess with SUSAN HAYWARD unless y’know what you’re doing…Or you like playing with fire. OR you are Dana Andrews! She plays the other Other Woman: Verna. She’s another working girl, an efficient, proactive secretary. ( She gets Larry out of a jam with his business partner ). She’s cold and calculating…thinks with her head and bank account.  She goes after what she wants ( …orchids” ) and puts a name on it: “golddigger. If he wants her, it’d have to be on her terms.

But she turns female, just like every other woman does. She switches up. The money doesn’t matter. She wants him… even without his financial meal ticket. She’s pretty much an old-fashioned girl. ( This is the 40’s…remember? ) They run into Janice  in a nightclub and I like how the two women size each other up. They get all the information they need about each other in under thirty nanoseconds. Verna’s on the level, she wants Larry.

He now wants to head for the hills as fast as his *P.F. Flyers can take him.

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ROBERT YOUNG ( Trial )

Ultimately, Robert Young’s Lawrence Ballantyne is a coward. A weak, lying coward who sold his heart and self-respect at every turn. I don’t think Jane Greer was the first and I don’t think Susan Hayward’d be the last. He makes me shake my head in disbelief at his actions. He’s such a weasel.

ROBERT YOUNG ( Believe Me )
Character actor Frank Ferguson questions Robert Young

Young’s character’d be content to string a girl along until she gets too demanding; he’d pull the old my-wife-won’t-give-me-a-divorce card and then VOILA! It’s off to greener, prettier and more available pastures. He’s a coward who runs away from facing the consequences of his actions. His actions put baaaad things in motion. I know you know movies. So do I. But I still heartily recommend this one if you haven’t seen it yet.

It will air on Noir Alley this Sunday ( October 8th ) on TCM, hosted by Eddie Muller. It’s not your ordinary run-of-the-mill love ’em and leave ’em drama. There’s enough bobbing & weaving to keep you interested. See what happens when a not-so-bad guy, lies and cheats and is dragged down by what he’s done. See what happens when a man tries to avoid his fate. Robert Young does a very good job as this type of man. And yes, I think he’s sexy.

Cine-Moral #630: When a man’s mistress finds outhis wife is richer than he is, all bets are off. Expect to be dumped.

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A LITTLE ABOUT THE DIRECTOR AND CAST:

I’ve been thinking about THEY WON’T BELIEVE ME off and on for a few days now, happy TCM is showing it. This was a good solid role for all four main cast members, and it made me curious about where these stars exactly were in their career at this point; the beginning…middle…the end?? I wanted to see what movie came just before and just after “…Believe Me. Success was ahead for some, obscurity for another and cinema immortality for yet another. Info directly quoted from IMDB:

IRVING PICHEL  ( 1891 – 1954 )

IRVING PICHEL ( Director )   IRVING PICHEL

He not only directs, but he’s Dracula’s daughter’s personal assistant.

Pichel does a great job in weaving this tale. Using flashbacks and a voice-over of a man on trial for murder, I love all the twisty turns movie takes. He has Hitchcock’s tv producer Joan Harrison in his corner to produce a wonderful film, well-cast and well-told. Pichel is very capable.

Temptation” 1947
“They Won’t Believe Me” 1947
Something in the Wind 1947

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

ROBERT YOUNG ( 1907 – 1998 )

ROBERT YOUNG ( Older ) ROBERT YOUNG ( Young ) ROBERT YOUNG ( Middle-Aged )

His movie career consisted of playing characters who were charming, good-looking–and bland. In fact, his screen image was such that he usually never got the girl. Louis B. Mayer would say: ‘He has no sex appeal,’ but he had a work ethic that prepared him for every role that he played. His patented shyness and painful insecurity turned his social drinking into a chronic alcohol problem during his MGM years that lasted nearly three decades. He recovered with the aid and encouragement of his wife Elizabeth and through spiritual metaphysics (Science of Mind), not to mention Alcoholics Anonymous. He often held AA meetings in his home. Young attempted suicide in 1991 as a result of a chemical imbalance and while battling Alzheimer’s disease and heart problems. ( You can read about the ‘dark side’ of Robert Young in this Movie Morlocks article by Jeff Stafford. )

LADY LUCK
“THEY WON’T BELIEVE ME” ( 40 y.o. )
CROSSFIRE

…To my shock and surprise whIle I was watching some of Lew Ayres’ films on TCM? I saw Robert Young in “Rich Man, Poor Girl” ( 1938 ) where the actress who plays his sister….is Rita Johnson.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

RITA JOHNSON  ( 1913-1965 )

RITA JOHNSON ( Glam-II )  Rita Johnson-1941-Hers Comes Mr Jordan

Unfortunately, her career came to an end in 1948 when a hair dryer fell on her head causing brain damage. Brain surgery was performed, but  her screen time was still very limited. ( See Frances Gifford ). The doctor noted that apart from her current injuries there were a number of old bruises on various parts of her body. Detectives investigating the injuries, however, reported nothing to indicate it was anything other than an accident. Rumors continued but were never confirmed that she was romantically involved with a gangster who had beaten her. Previous beatings, it was alleged, had caused the old bruises. She died in Los Angeles County General Hospital on Oct. 31, 1965. Miss Johnson was only 52 years old.

MICHIGAN KID
“THEY WON’T BELIEVE ME” ( 35 y.o. )
SLEEP MY LOVE

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

SUSAN HAYWARD  ( 1917 – 1975 )

SUSAN HAYWARD ( Glam-I ) SUSAN HAYWARD ( Glam-II )

In 1958 she gave the performance of her lifetime as real-life California killer Barbara Graham in I Want to Live! (1958), who was convicted of murder and sentenced to death in the gas chamber. Susan was absolutely riveting in her portrayal of the doomed woman. Many film buffs consider it to be one of the finest performances of all time, and this time she was not only nominated for Best Actress, but won. A two-pack a day smoker with a taste for drink, Susan was diagnosed with brain cancer in March of 1972. On 14 March 1975, after a three year struggle against the disease, Susan died at her Hollywood home. Susan Hayward was laid to rest in a grave adjacent that of her husband Eaton Chalkley in the peace of Carrollton, Georgia where they had spent several happy years together in life. She was 57.

SMASH-UP: A STORY OF A WOMAN
“THEY WON’T BELIEVE ME” ( 30 y.o. )
THE LOST MOMENT

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

JANE GREER  ( 1924 – 2001 )

JANE GREER ( Glam-I )  THEY WON'T BELIEVE ME ( Jane Greer )

As a baby, she was winning beauty contests; as a teenager, with good looks and an attractive contralto voice, she was singing with big bands.She claimed that it was through facial exercises to overcome the paralysis that she learned the efficacy of facial expression in conveying human emotion, a skill she was renowned for using in her acting. Quickly married crooner Rudy Vallee after fleeing a possessed Howard Hughes, who discovered her on a WWII poster and kept her virtually a prisoner during her first few months. An enraged Hughes pressured her and ruined the marriage. She returned to Hughes and her contract. Achieved screen immortality with ‘Out of the Past‘.

Personal Quote:  I love making movies, but I was ready to rationalize being only a mother if my career never got back on track.

SINBAD THE SAILOR
“THEY WON’T BELIEVE ME” ( 23 y.o. )
OUT OF THE PAST

…And one little extra bonus for those fans of the obscure and lost women of Hollywood. Janet Shaw ( YAY!! ) is in this movie for one brief scene with Robert Young. ( You can read about some other Lost Women of Hollywood here. ) Wait…you don’t know her?

                     JANET SHAW ( Believe Me )

                                      Sure you do…see:

                             JANET SHAW ( Believe Me )

Cine-Moral #2: What Kind of Fool I Am“<—– Sammy Davis can tell you. What I would say is:

* Fool me once, shame on you.
* Fool me twice, shame on me.
* Fool me three times, everybody’s gettin’ a beatdown up in here!

Read an enjoyable write-up—> here <—from the blogosphere’s QUEEN of Film Noir, Karen of Shadows and Satin or at Arthur’s CinemaCafe.

Now…enjoy the movie.

( H O M E )

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19 thoughts on “THEY WON’T BELIEVE ME ( 1947 )

  1. You’ve really got me intrigued, Theresa. My DVR is poised and ready for Sunday morning. Looking forward to seeing Robert Young in a completely different role…..a cad?!? Oh my….this will be sumptuous viewing! Thanks for your research and your always original point of view. Love your blogs!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Irma…how’ve you been?

      I appreciate you taking the time to read…AND comment on my wild and crazy musings on classic film. I really tried hard not to put any spoilers in this review. I’ve left you ( and others ) loads to see and discover on your owm. Will you drop be here sometime after you see the movie…and let me know what you think?

      Like

      • Thank goodness I recorded this movie! What a treat! My husband, Jim, was busy Sunday night so I indulged myself with Robert Young instead. No, Jim didn’t mind. This movie was made even more intriguing because of the choice of Robert Young as the leading man. It probably wouldn’t have piqued my interest as much if the leading man was an established cad already. Thanks for the recommendation, Theresa. Now, I’ve got to get Jim to view it!

        Like

      • Hi Irma ~ I’m glad you enjoyed “They Won’t Believe Me.” And without Jim?? WoW! Your husband’s broad~minded. ( 😉 ) You make such a really good point too re: Robert Young being the lead. His screen persona is not Gable’s or Errol Flynn. Bringing the cachet of his persona keeps us a tiny bit off~balance than if we were faced with Tyrone Power. Good to hear you’ll share this with Jim. Hope you’re just as broad~minded if he drools over Jane Greer and Susan Hayward.

        Like

  2. Great review – AS ALWAYS‼️ Nice to see Robert Young get a meaty role. It’s this film plus Cross Fire I always remember him for. Always competent but so very rarely given a challenging part. I too liked him in THOSE ENDEARING YOUNG CHARMS.

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is such a good movie. I marginally like Robert Young, but I totally recognize what a great job he did in this film. I can’t wait to revisit it on Noir Alley this Sunday morning. Thanks for reading and being so complimentary.

      Like

  3. “And I’m as shocked as anyone to write – “sexy” and “Robert Young” – in the same sentence. ”

    I shouldn’t have laughed, haha! I always thought he was an attractive guy! Great review! I will now add this to my IMDB watchlist, your review got me interested.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A wonderful review as always Theresa. My first experience with Robert Young was watching the original Father Knows Best back when you had to get up off the couch to change the channel. I do remember the elbow patches on his ever-present suit. Little did I know then as a kid in grade school that years earlier his television wife Jane Wyatt had been in one of my future favorite movies “Lost Horizon” along with a whole slew of other actors like Thomas Mitchell and Ronald Colman, who would become favorites of mine in the future.

    But that rascal Robert Young having two of my favorite “who would you like with you on a desert island” actresses–not fair not fair! I haven’t seen They Won’t Believe Me but I’m planning to watch it now. Susan and Jane together in one movie–how did they keep the film from melting in the camera? I hope my brain doesn’t explode. Thanks for the heads up I’m going to enjoy it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Kevin…thank you so much for reading my work here. I, too, was a human remote control when my father would tell us to get up and turn the tv channel. I hope you watched “They Won’t Believe Me” and come back and tell me what you think.

      Oh by the by…yes to all you say, re: Jane and Susan. ( Years later they were together again in Where Love Has Gone one of those great 60’s pot boiling soap movies. Thanks again for your comments!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Too funny! A human remote control, I never thought of it that way before, I’m sure you thought of saying your battery was running low and you needed a candy bar to recharge.
        I did get a chance to see They won’t believe me

        Like

      • And it was pretty awesome. I think that Robert Young was actually contemplating killing his wife when he took that pistol and went looking for her in the house. He certainly was a cad, but apparently couldn’t live with himself anymore at the end which was a real shocker for me and quite well done. I’m going to have to watch it again since I have it on demand for another week or so. And I’ll definitely be watching Where Love Has Gone . Thanks again for the great review looking forward to your next one.
        Kevin

        Like

      • I’m so glad you enjoyed the film (( That ending…WHEW!!! )) It IS worth a second viewing. And “Where Love Has Gone” is kitschy fun. Thank so much for checking out my blog.

        Liked by 1 person

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