FERNANDO’s CORNER ~ posted August 21st, 2017

(RKO Radio) (Dir: Alfred Santell)

Little remembered great actress Ann Harding, who was also a first magnitude star during a short period with the advent of the talkies, stars in “The Life of Vergie Winter.” A tearjerker supreme, Harding is noble, good-natured, unselfish, brave, courageous Vergie Winters. Vergie defies small-town gossip, carrying on an illicit relationship, with now-married ex-sweetheart John Shadwell, played adequately by John Boles, who’s better than usual in this role.

Harding’s very good and sincere acting makes her self-sacrifice and bigger-than-life love she feels for both, Shadwell and their illegitimate daughter, Joan very believable.

Helen Vinson is very, very good as Boles’ selfish, mean, superficial and ambition-driven wife (just the very opposite of Vergie), Laura. The face of this now forgotten actress reminds me greatly of Helen Hayes. Josephine Whittwell is also very good as sympathetic Madame Claire, who in the film is implied to be sort of the owner or “Madam” of the local bordello, who’s also friendly to Harding and helps to save her small hat store ~ (she’s the local milliner) ~ from bankruptcy. Cecil Cunningham and Maidel Turner shine too as two local fellow professional gossipers.

In Mick LaSalle’s book “Complicated Women”, he states this film was released the week before the Production Code was finally fully enforced.

A must~see for fans of classic pre~code weepies.


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