FERNANDO’s CORNER – Posted March 15th, 2015
“Dodsworth” ( 1936 ) – The actors build up their characters very close to perfection in this outstanding film, which deals with the conflicts of a middle-aged married American couple on a European second-honeymoon trip. One wonders how such a poignant, adult film, could be made under the restrictions of the Production Code, which reigned supreme from 1934.
One of the reasons I enjoy this film is the cast. The cast is uniformly flawless. First and fore-most for me is Walter Huston, as industrialist Sam Dodsworth. He gives one of the most sincere and unaffected performances ever achieved by an actor on the American screen. ( He deserved an Academy Award for this role ). Huston is one of the finest actors of the Golden Era and only an actor of his stature and range was able to portray convincingly Sam Dodsworth, without falling into the maudlin, sentimental or stereotypical.
Lovely and very pretty Mary Astor is in a most sympathetic role, as an American widow living in Naples, Italy, who falls in love with Huston, realizing they’re soulmates. Ruth Chatterton plays Fran Dodsworth, the self-centered, snobbish, selfish, spoiled, manipu-lative, unnerving & ultimately adulterous wife of Huston, who cannot cope with growing old. She ends up looking down on her husband, hometown friends, way of life, etc…. She yearns for “European” chic and sophisticated ways of its idle upper classes. Paul Lukas, as the suave, Continental man who uses his charms on Chatterton. David Niven is one of Chatterton’s suitors. There’s also a very young John Payne, as the Dodsworths’ son-in-law. And character actress Madame Maria Ouspenskaya, who makes her American debut, as the dowager baroness who spoils Chatterton’s wedding plans to her much younger son Kurt ( played by Gregory Gaye ), who not only is an impoverished nobleman, but cannot make decisions of his very own!
Samuel Goldwyn, the legendary and indomitable Hollywood producer, must be given the praise for making the decision to film such a delicate and sensitive movie, with an “A” class treatment, in spite of its lack of commercial punch for regular ‘30s moviegoers.
William Wyler is my favorite director and in this film he demonstrates why he was such a Cinema giant. He tried hard to achieve perfection and this film is flawless. It is like a piece of life. I think it is perhaps the most honest film about the marriage of a middle-aged couple filmed during the Classic Golden Era, with no concessions…
“Dodsworth” is really one of the best Hollywood movies of all time, and a truly timeless 1930’s classic. Buying the dvd release of this film has been one of the smartest inves-tments of my adult life because it has been object of repeated viewings and will continue to be revisited ad aeternum.
( H O M E )