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DODSWORTH, a ramble


laffite
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Another eloquent post. Thanks.

 

There is a lot to be said about sitting and reading books and not thinking about guy stuff. I have always thought that in addition to the passion one feels for a spouse they also have to be comfortable with them too.

 

The way Sam felt when he was with Edith is that way. It is not lust, though that may be part of it, but it is really two people who enjoy being with each other. They think alike. The small things interest them. These lead to big ideas. They are very much art ease with each other. That is what will carry you through a life.

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Before this thread recedes into the abyss (as all threads must) I thought to post some caps. Please indulge. Thanks.

 

*If you haven't seen Dodsworth, please do yourself a favor and ignore this post. Some of the caps are sequential and they tell the story. Why ruin this movie for yourself forever just to look at a few pictures. It's not worth it. Go do a crossword puzzle...or better yet, go get the DVD and watch... DODSWORTH.* :)

 

dodswhatwoman.jpg

 

 

Who is the woman on the right? Anyone else notice this? This is not when Sam is waiting for Fran, this is later after they are separated and he?s in the doldrums waiting for the divorce and being a tourist in the meantime. I thought it might be Edith?but it?s not. This shot is of some duration and the woman stares at him and wants to get his attention. Are we supposed to believe that Sam is so into himself that he notices nothing around him? Maybe it's nothing.

 

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dodsniven.jpg

 

 

David Niven was great.

 

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Indulge me ... :D

 

Dodsedithlonewoman.jpg

 

dodsedith04.jpg

 

dodsedith05.jpg

 

dodsedithcoffee.jpg

 

Uh, I'll have a cup of that... :D

 

Bye, Edith :x :x :x

 

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*_PARTING OF THE WAYS_*

 

dodssamfrantrainS1.jpg

 

dodssamfrantranS2.jpg

 

dodsfrantrainsta.jpg

 

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*_DENOUMENT_*

 

*(Okay, this next series of caps is a serious spoiler, please do not look at them if you have not seen the film.)*

 

*_SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER_*

 

 

dodsedithsamlove.jpg

 

dodsedithsamtelephone.jpg

 

dodscongenialnote.jpg

 

dodsshortofsuicide.jpg

 

 

dodssamwaving.jpg

 

dodsedithhappy.jpg

 

dodsfranalone.jpg

 

 

Okay, okay, that last one doesn?t belong there. This is Fran earlier just after Sam Left. It would have been cruel to end the movie like this and I'm glad they didn't. It would have been a *Portrait in Black* ending, where we are made to feel the pain. Poor Fran. This image of her is wrenching.

 

L.

 

//

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Those were lovely, Laffite.

 

Indulge me a little here. I am sure that :x :x :x and Sam have a great exciting and relaxed life together. What isn't clear to me is how Fran ends up. I have my own thoughts, but I'd love to hear what you think happens to Fran after Sam walks away?

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Concerning your first cap I did notice it when the scene came on thinking it might lead somewhere. Maybe it was someone he met earlier or just a woman of a similar age thinking a lonely man would be someone she could talk to. Maybe she was lonely too.

 

I really liked David Niven. I mentioned somewhere that to listen to him give Fran a first class verbal butt kicking was great. It was done with the right amount of venom and sarcasm and all without raising his voice.

 

The one with Fran telling Sam not to be "too dreadfully lonely" is a fine line. Depending on how delivered it is either awfully condescending or genuinely concerned. I feel it is the latter but it must be said with care. Sam's response is tender, loving and tinged with just a bit of sorrow.

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*Jackie writes: What isn't clear to me is how Fran ends up. I have my own thoughts, but I'd love to hear what you think happens to Fran after Sam walks away?*

 

She has a difficult sail back to the States. She feels a different person without Sam but she doesn't want to think about it. Back home she gains solace by the presence of a grandchild and for awhile she forgets her pain but it is there. She is a strong woman and can put up a good front always saying what she needs to in order to save face but when she is alone, she is unhappy. Inevitably, she returns to Europe where she was once accepted but it's not the same. It doesn't seem as easy and the attentions aren't quite as plentiful. Before, she had Sam as a safety valve, somebody to go to when she took a hit as in the Lockhart incident, but Sam is not there any more and now when she suffers disappointment she has only herself to fall back on and she finds that difficult. Yes, she is still attractive and she enjoys some admiration here and there but it all seems so empty. She can be genuinely liked by what she had formerly referred to as gentleman of "civilization" but she realizes that she really doesn't like them back. It's no longer a game, it's the real thing and the stakes are just too high. She returns home and though she misses Sam dreadfully she knows in her heart that he won't come back and though the sadness lingers she bears up quite well. She realizes fully that it was indeed her "funeral" and that Sam is a thing of the past. She still worries about growing old but this thought has a certain dormancy now because it has been displaced by the thought of Sam's absence. She can't worry about growing old any more because then she has to worry about Sam not being there, so she represses both. It will take awhile but she finds a certain bearing and will no doubt remarry and be reasonably content. She is a strong woman and despite her sorrow, she survives.

 

Whatever... ;)

 

*Movieman writes: The one with Fran telling Sam not to be "too dreadfully lonely" is a fine line. Depending on how delivered it is either awfully condescending or genuinely concerned. I feel it is the latter but it must be said with care. Sam's response is tender, loving and tinged with just a bit of sorrow.*

 

I think Fran delivered it in a way that was the most satisfying for the effect of the scene and it was quite in keeping with her character. She was not gloating. She was not trying to feel superior. She really meant it. She is honest in this way. i give her credit for that. Sam's response was a bombshell...for me anyway. Many men might feel what Sam was feeling but few would actually make themselves so vulnerable as to say it out loud. And because both were being honest there, it gives meaning to that look on Fran's face when the train is pulling away and Kurt, her new partner, is waiting at her side. She is going to Kurt and there is no regret (as yet) but thoughts are swirling as she realizes just how much Sam loves her.

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I actually see Fran almost the exact same way.... Although I do see her becoming a bit more irritable than you in her old age.

 

When she allows herself to think of what her life might have been if she had just stayed with Sam in the first place, she might get in a bit of a mood. Her pouty behavior, what men used to call charming, becomes more cantankerous and hard to deal with - very much like that last scene, where she cannot pull off the right tone. Everything is all off kilter for her - there is no fun in being the belle of the ball without Sam in the background thinking she's divine.

 

I think she finally realizes that no one she wanted actually loved her as much as he did. That's a tough thing to know - that you are not the siren you thought you were. That you were transparent when you were trying for mysterious. And that you had the man you wanted, but were such a poor judge of men that you thought you didn't.

 

Whatever ;)

 

I agree with movieman and you about that line reading and how Chatterton delivered it - perfectly.

 

I noticed the woman in the background too, and I have always thought that she is there to show that Sam is eligible, good-looking, but not one to cheat on Fran. That he doesn't even see that woman makes him more sympathetic later when he meets :x :x :x . It shows him to be an honorable man, having an affair of the heart. with Edith.

 

Behind his wife's back.

 

Just kidding. :D

 

Edited by: JackFavell on Dec 1, 2009 4:38 PM

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That was an absolutely beautiful answer to Jackie's question, Johnny Laffite!

 

By the way, silly goose, i was being sarchastic when i said that Fran got what she deserved in the end. I completely agree with your theory, although i don't think she truely loved Sam as much as you think she seems to portray in their marriage or while she was missing him when they were split apart. whether or not she loved him at all in the beginning of their marriage, i'm not totally certain, but i can't help but wonder if they EVER had a true love for each other, b/c it just doesn't seem that way to me. In fact, im not surely if Fran was even capable of loving anyone selflessly; that just wasn't in her personality.

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*...Johnny Laffite!*

 

Greer!

 

How are you! Bet you had a good Thanksx, yes!

 

*By the way, silly goose, i was being sarchastic when i said that Fran got what she deserved in the end.*

 

Sarcastic or no, there is an element of truth to it. When she left Sam she agreed with him that it was her "funeral." It's easy for me to feel for her on a certain level, but in the end she made a choice and agreed with Sam, it was her "funeral" when she left him for Kurt.

 

*although i don't think she truely loved Sam as much as you think she seems to portray in their marriage or while she was missing him when they were split apart. Whether or not she loved him at all in the beginning of their marriage, i'm not totally certain, but i can't help but wonder if they EVER had a true love for each other, b/c it just doesn't seem that way to me.*

 

I agree, they certainly were not in love in the sense of what you mean. But they were a couple for a long time and perhaps just used to each other but you can still miss someone in that case...is what i mean, plus the sheer impact of being alone can make that heart grow fonder...

 

*im not surely if Fran was even capable of loving anyone selflessly; that just wasn't in her personality.*

 

You're right. If we take that Fran we are given in the story and then provide the back story, it doesn't seem like she could love anyone seflessly...but who knows, you take someone like that and maybe she did really love him selflessly in the beginning...when she was young.

 

*Jackie wrote:*

 

*I think she finally realizes that no one she wanted actually loved her as much as he did. That's a tough thing to know - that you are not the siren you thought you were. That you were transparent when you were trying for mysterious. And that you had the man you wanted, but were such a poor judge of men that you thought you didn't.*

 

That's so much better said. I don't think my little narrative touched upon anything as important as what you just wrote there.

 

*I noticed the woman in the background too, and I have always thought that she is there to show that Sam is eligible, good-looking, but not one to cheat on Fran. That he doesn't even see that woman makes him more sympathetic later when he meets :x :x :x . It shows him to be an honorable man, having an affair of the heart. with Edith.*

 

Very good...though I think he was also shaken by the divorce that he would not have been interested in another woman anyway. With :x :x :x , it was so "accidental" how it happened, he was not even looking for another woman. He was thinking about business. (Gee, I hope he doesn't get too busy with those airplanes and begins to neglect :x :x :x . :( Nah...couldn't happen...could it?

 

Johnny Laffite

:)

 

Edited by: laffite on Dec 1, 2009 2:58 PM

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Mon Pirate!

 

*Greer!*

 

you're funny!

 

*How are you! Bet you had a good Thanksx, yes!*

 

Yes! lots of family! lots of food! lots of games and babies to hold! how was your Thanksgiving?

 

*Sarcastic or no, there is an element of truth to it. When she left Sam she agreed with him that it was her "funeral." It's easy for me to feel for her on a certain level, but in the end she made a choice and agreed with Sam, it was her "funeral" when she left him for Kurt.*

 

This is true and thats what i was trying to say...give or take. heehee! see, you say it mucho better! It was her foolish choice...

 

*I agree, they certainly were not in love in the sense of what you mean. But they were a couple for a long time and perhaps just used to each other but you can still miss someone in that case...is what i mean, plus the sheer impact of being alone can make that heart grow fonder...*

 

Well, I mean, they were no Mr. and Mrs. Miniver, that's for surely! heehee! even couple who are just used to each other (at least the ones that i know) don't act like Fran and Sam did while still married.

 

*You're right. If we take that Fran we are given in the story and then provide the back story, it doesn't seem like she could love anyone seflessly...but who knows, you take someone like that and maybe she did really love him selflessly in the beginning...when she was young.*

 

Do you ever think Sam truely loved Fran? I mean he's more of a gentle personality...unless when they first met, he loved her b/c she had more of a loving personality and as they grew older, she became more selfish and a bit on the mean-spirited side...i dunno. Thats definitely something to think about every time i re-watch this movie.

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*Mon Pirate!*

 

Bonjour Greer!

 

*Yes! lots of family! lots of food! lots of games and babies to hold! how was your Thanksgiving?*

 

I had a wicked cold that day and had to sequester myself from other humans aside from a few brief appearances that were met with a holiday-spirited cheer and good will though I was kept at a distance for the continuing good health of all. :) Otherwise I kept to myself with a 7 inch digital TV on which I watched *Frank* 's Cowboys win a football game against the hopeless and hapless Raiders, a nice gift to any Charger fan who, as everybody knows, hates the Raiders with undying passion. :)

 

*Well, I mean, they were no Mr. and Mrs. Miniver, that's for surely! heehee! even couple who are just used to each other (at least the ones that i know) don't act like Fran and Sam did while still married.*

 

Well, I hope they continue not acting like Fran and Sam...but if they decide to retire and go to Europe, I would try to talk them out of it. ;)

 

*Do you ever think Sam truely loved Fran?*

 

I do, I really do. He's a business man and maybe there is a certain sobriety to his love. He's not as outwardly demonstrative as, say, Smithy. But, no question, he loved her very much.

 

*...unless when they first met, he loved her b/c she had more of a loving personality and as they grew older, she became more selfish and a bit on the mean-spirited side...i dunno.*

 

I think they were more-or-less okay at the beginning of the movie...it was the retirement and the trip to Europe that opened the can of worms, especially for Fran.

 

:)

Johnny Laffite

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Sweet T:

 

I also think Sam really loved Fran. For one I can only imagine that is why he held on so long, Back at Lafitte's picture of Sam asking Fran if he told her how much he adored her, that, to me, is a lovely choice of words. I think it could go beyond the word "love." In a relationship "love" can become as much a routine. "Good night. I love you" said to one's own, while totally sincere, can become as habit forming as anything. When he makes a point to tell her he adores her then he is putting a special emphasis on his heart.

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I think Sam loved Fran in the best way he knew how. I also think that Fran loved Sam to the best of her ability. I don't think Fran's affairs were about love at all, but were about vanity, about not getting what she needed from Sam. Without Sam, those affairs are not much.

 

I think this question about Sam loving Fran is an interesting one, because Sam's love of Fran and Sam's love of :x :x :x are so very different.

 

Sam's love of Fran is a sort of "how's the old girl" kind of thing. Their life at home was comfortable and everything seemed fine. When they travel, Fran is stirred to think that all the excitement she craved is going to be over soon, she won't have a chance for it as they age. Sam doesn't seem to be able to express his love very well except in that one scene. Is that what Fran was after all along? I don't think she knows what she wants. For Sam to love her beyond everything else? To give something up for her? For him to actually show his love in a concrete tangible way? Maybe she just wants excitement. Sam wants the opposite. He's been awfully busy. Did she get his attention by having affairs, and so she leaped in again, in order to get him to show her again and again? She doesn't seem to be able to stop herself. She wants something different from what they had, though.

 

Sam is comfortable with Fran. She is his girl. He is used to her. He adores her, but .... they are separate somehow. He doesn't see her, really. He sometimes seems to be a little withholding. She wants too much from him, and he doesn't seem to really want her enough. He wants her to be happy, but they do not mesh. I think Fran would like it if a man gave up his career or made a sacrifice for her. Sam is NOT the sacrifice type of guy. He doesn't even want to try to fit in to the society she craves. Yes, he tries, but not enough. He let's her walk all over him.... but I don't see him sacrificing much, except maybe self-respect.

 

His no nonsense ways are not a good match for Fran's wish for drama and romance and excitement. I am not sure that their love at this point is much more than a caring about the other's welfare. As to their younger days, I think Sam was more exciting when he was young. Fran was a catch. They loved each other. They have both _settled._ If they were to go back to the states, I see a bleak future of them both living inside of their own heads, never really communicating. Happy enough, but lacking something.

 

When I see Sam with Edith, there is a relaxation, a meshing of the two that is comfortable but sparky. It seems so much deeper than Sam's love for Fran. He didn't know that he wanted that, but he did. Once he saw it, he couldn't go back to Fran and see her the same way. I think he realized that his love for Fran was gone, or that it was simply familiarity, and caring, like one cares for a sister. He and Fran simply grew apart, in two different directions.

 

I think Fran saw that Sam was not in love with her anymore at that last meeting. Her inability to say the right thing was really just how Sam sees her now, without that passion or whatever it was that blinded him. And Fran wants a man blinded by love. Her words fall flat, because he doesn't care for her. In fact, I would go so far as to say, he doesn't even like her.

 

Fran, I think, finally realizes that she had Sam's love (small thing that it was) all along, and that she lost it by pushing him to be jealous and act it out. This makes the ending really harsh. Sam on the other hand, is freed, and sees that his love for Fran was small and proprietary, like a business deal rather than a true love, like he has with Edith.

 

I am probably talking out my ear, but thanks for letting me ramble on. I am sure you are tired of my opinions, dragging on and on. They aren't much, and may be at odds with the actual movie. :)

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*I think this question about Sam loving Fran is an interesting one,* *because* *Sam's love of Fran and Sam's love of :x :x :x are so very* *different.*

 

They are, at best, looking for different things at this point in their life.

 

I think Sam's retirement throws them both off their mark. Fran gets a life. Sam loses one. By Fran's getting a life it would seem that all kinds of new chances and new things are opened to her. Things even her wealth could not get her. Sam, now without his empire, has little to do. I guess he must have thought it would be their chance to be together. Fran finds other things to do.

 

*I think Fran would like it if a man gave up his career or made a sacrifice* *for her. Sam is NOT the sacrifice type of guy. He doesn't even want to* *try to fit in to the society she craves. Yes, he tries, but not enough. He* *let's her walk all over him.... but I don't see him sacrificing much,*

*except maybe self-respect.*

 

I think Sam sees his selling the company as a sacrifice. He is now without the one thing that gives him a sense of accomplishment and that he may be any good at doing. He only seems to liven up when he finds a new project later with Edith. I think Fran wants the sacrifice you mention but at only at a certain type of sacrifice.

 

They are comfortable, maybe too comfortable.

 

*I am probably talking out my ear, but thanks for letting me ramble on. I* *am sure you are tired of my opinions, dragging on and on. They aren't* *much, and may be at odds with the actual movie. :)*

 

No one is tired of your opinions. We look forward to them. They don't drag they make us think. You had better keep it up.

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> {quote:title=movieman1957 wrote:}{quote}

> I think Sam's retirement throws them both off their mark. Fran gets a life. Sam loses one. By Fran's getting a life it would seem that all kinds of new chances and new things are opened to her. Things even her wealth could not get her. Sam, now without his empire, has little to do. I guess he must have thought it would be their chance to be together. Fran finds other things to do.

 

Now see, you put it so well, while I walked around and around it.

 

> I think Sam sees his selling the company as a sacrifice. He is now without the one thing that gives him a sense of accomplishment and that he may be any good at doing. He only seems to liven up when he finds a new project later with Edith. I think Fran wants the sacrifice you mention but at only at a certain type of sacrifice.

 

Agggh. I had written a paragraph and now it isn't there. It went something like this:

 

I agree completely. Fran can't see him, either. She doesn't think his giving up the company is so much of a sacrifice. And she can't understand why he is moping about. She does nothing to help him out of his doldrums. She is on her own from the minute she starts the trip. She wants her own life now. Sam is just her boat ticket. And yet, I can't help feeling that life passed her by in some way. I actually feel sorrier for Fran.

 

> No one is tired of your opinions. We look forward to them. They don't drag they make us think. You had better keep it up.

 

Thanks, friend. I am in my paranoid phase. :)

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*Bonjour Greer!*

 

Bonjour Captain Jack Sparrow!

 

I had a wicked cold that day and had to sequester myself from other humans aside from a few brief appearances that were met with a holiday-spirited cheer and good will though I was kept at a distance for the continuing good health of all. Otherwise I kept to myself with a 7 inch digital TV on which I watched Frank 's Cowboys win a football game against the hopeless and hapless Raiders, a nice gift to any Charger fan who, as everybody knows, hates the Raiders with undying passion.

 

oh no!!! you cant have a cold on family holidays!!....well i cant talk, b/c three years ago i was sick on Christmas and couldnt do anything with my family, like i wanted to do, so i know how ya feel. are you all better? i know you felt better after watching that Football game. heehee! but ill leave the football to you guys, and ill be perfectly fine with watching my gymnastics and figure skating. heehee!

 

*Well, I hope they continue not acting like Fran and Sam...but if they decide to retire and go to Europe, I would try to talk them out of it.*

 

i would definitely talk them out of it! phew! when my grandpapa retired a few years ago, i thought him and grandmama would kill each other, heehee, but they got used to it and found ways to enjoy everything together. it was actually really funny to watch. heehee!

 

*I do, I really do. He's a business man and maybe there is a certain sobriety to his love. He's not as outwardly demonstrative as, say, Smithy. But, no question, he loved her very much.*

 

ah! now i see what your side is! okay okay, yes i agree with that actually, b/c i felt so bad for him in the movie. I could feel that he loved Fran very much, and i knew she didn't feel that way about him at the time. i mean her "love" for him was a little different and i think the problem that BOTH of them had was demonstrating their love for each other. i dont think he was the only one to be like that.

 

*I think they were more-or-less okay at the beginning of the movie...it was the retirement and the trip to Europe that opened the can of worms, especially for Fran.*

 

i dont think they were okay at the beginning of the movie...to me, their marriage at the beginning of the movie was showing signs of crumbling. they were both so disconnected with eachother at that point.

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*I think Sam loved Fran in the best way he knew how ... Sam's love of Fran is a sort of "how's the old girl" kind of thing.*

 

I'm hoping that says more about Sam's personality than the quality of his love. :) I worry about the phrase "the best way he knew how" as if there was something particularly wrong about it or strange about him. We see Sam love her probably much the same way as he always did and Fran must have been used to that. I give him credit for doing some of the little things that women often appreciate, for instance, he paid attention to her, he wanted her to be with him to see the sights, he allowed her more freedom than most would, and he still wanted Fran to be sure about Kurt before rushing into marriage with him and I still feel that was entirely unselfish of him to do that as well as showing an uncommon regard for a wife that was in effect leaving him. He was sincere at the train station when he told her he adored her. As an earlier poster alluded to, many women would kill for that kind of attention and consideration. So I think he does show his love in quite a real way.

 

But he is not overtly romantic and this can be a disadvantage. We see this even with Edith. Sam doesn't even broach the subject of Edith leaving the villa and joining him in his new life. He doesn't say I love you and I'm going to start a new life and I want you to share it with me. Instead he rather absently includes her in the plan and it's up to her to clarify and then make a declaration of love to him...to which he responds, "God bless you for it." He doesn't say, "I love you too." He doesn't like overt displays of affection like that, that's Sam. But the love is there, I hope anyway.

 

(I could almost worry about that relationship. Sam in so in to his business ventures that he sees Edith more as a friend that a loving wife. Can we assume that it might have been something like that with Fran in the early going?)

 

Not for a moment do I think I got Sam figured out :) but Fran is the real crux. She is more complex and more inscrutable, at least for me.

 

At first it seems to be about fear of growing old and a need for freedom. It seemed more about that than anything specifically having to do with Sam. The two of them seem all right following the Lockert incident when she turns to him apologizing and then near the same following the Iselin incident. But then it changes with Kurt. When Sam gets in the way of that relationship she turns on Sam. Here is a paragraph I wrote in an earlier post:

 

*Laffite*: He angers her by saying they should both go back home because, "I'm not taking any chances on another Arnold Iselin." Watch her start when he says that. She is suddenly livid and that's when she tells him she is going to marry Kurt and she says, "I'm going to marry Kurt...I decided just now, just this minute, when I found you hiding behind doors..." Just now? Is this what decides her, Sam getting her mad? No, probably not. It's the telling little speech that follows. She accuses of him of never understanding her, never appreciating the sacrifices she made, never really knowing her, etc. These words have a resounding effect on the story for me, we finally get something from her other than the fear of growing old. She has other baggage and it's got Sam's name written all over it.

 

She no longer loves Sam now...and these complaints about Sam, can we believe them? Or has her pride been hurt and she is simply lashing out? As you say, "I don't think she knows what she wants." This is my feeling from the Kurt situation on. And I don't understand why she would marry Kurt. It does seem a little precipitous. It wasn't her idea in the first place, she says she decided just that minute when arguing with Sam (Can we believe that?), and what kind of life does she think she's going to have with Kurt? I admit, I dont understand Fran. I would understand her more if she told Sam that she wanted to leave him and stay in Europe with her own money and live for awhile. That I would understand. That's Fran. But marrying Kurt? Why would she do it. Surely she did not love him. It wasn't for security. She must have realized that her life would be more circumscribed with Kurt than it was with Sam. And surely not for some sort of ego gratification for having married a younger man. Not even Fran with all her obsessive fears about growing old is that shallow. Fran Dodsworth is an enigma.

 

*I think Fran saw that Sam was not in love with her anymore at that last meeting*

 

At first blush she doesn't seem to notice him at all. It's all about her. She did nothing but complain. She wanted the door closed, she held herself above everybody else in the hall, Kurt was horrible, Kurt's mother was horrible, she didn't need to apologize to Sam because Sam always let bygones be bygones, and you know, Sam, she says, it wasn't all my fault, you are to blame too. That's when Sam got up and told the Steward to bring his bag down, he decided he wasn't going with her.

 

But it's true too, as you say, he seemed to reproach her every word and that was not quite like him and she noticed it. I thought it was a loaded scene. The story wants Fran to come off badly and Sam to jump on her for it so that he has good reason to leave and therefore a good lead-in to the reunion with Edith.

 

Jackie, I loved your post and there are the some points that you made that I seem clueless about. I am not so good at making far-reaching inferences as to the characters and more inclined to cling on hard evidence as I see it on screen. This sounds good on the surface but I fear sometimes that I am short on imagination and perhaps view things a bit too literally and that can be a disadvantage and in fact might explain my difficulty in understanding Fran. For instance, your points about what Fran might have expected from Sam with reference to sacrifice and that perhaps Fran might have wanted Sam to be responsive to her need for "romance" and "excitement" require a kind of analysis that I am perhaps not so good at. I admire your ideas and the elegant manner of expression and writing that you exhibit. If you can help me understand Fran more I would be all ears :)

 

L

 

Edited by: laffite on Dec 2, 2009 11:30 PM

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The sad thing is, I don't think I really understand her either.... :)

 

I think this is what keeps me coming back to the movie and to Fran... because I want to understand her. She seems very familiar to me. I have some of the same feelings she does, dissatisfaction with certain aspects of my life, and I wonder if it is because she doesn't work for a living? Would that give her a satisfaction, a sense of self that she relies on Sam to give her?

 

I keep wavering back and forth on why she does the things she does. I write, then I see someone else's words and that changes my opinion. She is kind of an enigma. I would say she is like any woman as far as Kurt is concerned... she wants the opportunity to be a princess. :) She thinks maybe that would make her happy - it's her equivalent of taking over a giant corporation....it's the top , the pinnacle of success.

 

I also think she made that decision because something in Sam's answer bugged her - and she wanted to wound him. From this point on, Fran seems to waver around a bit, not so sure of herself....She does things but you can see she is turning her back on her conscience. Does she waver because she is no longer sure of Sam? Or because she is in too high over her head? Or because she knows she is doing something hurtful to everyone around her? I can hear her thoughts: "Why shouldn't I have what I want for a change? I deserve it."

 

I think she is mad at Sam for not being everything she wanted. She is a highly emotional woman, and acts on her emotions before thinking. She wants Sam to leave her alone, but she wants him to pay attention to her 24 seven.

 

As to my statement about Sam - I didn't mean that Sam was in any way wrong in his actions. When I say "the best way he knew how" - I mean he really gave her the best of himself. He did give her things, little attentions. He loves her in his own way... and she in hers. But their ways do not cross, they run parallel. Sam is on a certain path... and his actions are going to follow that path... his work has always made him somewhat of a straight arrow guy... and he translates this work ethic to his relationship with Fran. She follows a more non-linear path. He is no nonsense, and she is all nonsense....

 

She wants something else, but I cannot for the life of me figure out exactly what. Maybe she just wants something different, and it's never really clear to her what _it_ is.

 

I rewatched the last scene because that was all I could find anymore on youtube. They must have removed the film since I watched it a couple of weeks ago. I think Fran wants Sam to pay and pay and pay for wasting her life. I think this is her basic unhappiness, but at the same time she wants him to love her like he did when they were young, and express it satisfactorily. She blames him underneath it all. Thank you for giving me this insight. She has nothing to occupy her mind except these affairs of the heart. As I said before, men make a lousy career.

 

Maybe this is why I got the idea that the film is a criticism of marriage at that time, and what it can do to people over the course of a life. She is right, it is partly his fault - Sam never really saw her before- he let her flutter around while he looked down from the mount (his business) and blithely went on thinking everything was alright. She is bigoted and nasty about people because she needs to feel better than others in some deep way. If she had a skill, she could have felt better about herself by being good at something.

 

Sam never paid enough attention to what she was really like underneath the flutter until now - his eyes are opened as they should have been all along. A man cannot concentrate all his effort on business, just as a woman cannot concentrate all her effort on a man. It just leads to unhappiness. I do think Sam has learned his lesson - I don't think he will go back to being all businessman all the time. So Edith is safe... and I think she has a life already and won't bury herself in frivolous attempts to get his attention- she is straghtforward, and will tell him he is too much into his business. They communicate , and he and Fran didn't.

 

Unfortunately, Fran didn't learn much about herself. She is too much of a different time, a time when women were revered and treated like queens, but had nothing to do. Very sad.

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*I write, then I see someone else's words and that changes my opinion.*

 

I?ve been doing my share of that too. And you're the "someone else." :)

 

I am finally losing my grip on the idea that maybe Fran didn?t know what she was saying when she let loose that tirade at the bedroom door about Sam never knowing her and not knowing the sacrifices she made and saying she would divorce him and then going through with it as if in some sort of spree of self-deception borne out of anger with Sam. I had thought this because earlier she had flirtations and then was sorry about them and then these little rapprochements with Sam ("If I do it again, will you beat me?"), then was happy one minute about a grand child and the next fearful of being grandmother. She says she decides to marry Kurt ?just this moment with you spying behind doors? which does not sound like true resolve but rather something said out of momentary anger and therefore something she might not really mean. There just seemed to me something flighty and unstable in her personality that allowed me to believe that she didn?t know quite what she was saying and doing with that speech to Sam and the would-be marriage to Kurt.

 

But it seems to be the consensus that, yes, Fran had serious reservations about her marriage not only at present but in the past as well. I had thought she was going through phases and simply made some bad choices. After viewing the scene again, however, there is no way I can take what she says lightly. I have a slight wish that they may have done it a little better. I?m betting that the scene in the doorway when Fran says those words to Sam was a blockbuster moment in the stage play. In stage plays foreshadowing is less important than in movies. With the movie I was taken a little by surprise by it and as I say, had a hard time accepting it. (And yet there IS a delicious augur of Fran?s resolve and departure in that long bedroom scene when Sam approaches and says, ?Now, Fran, you?re not drifting away from me, are you?? and remember what she does. She look up at the corner of the ceiling and says, ?I hope not.? Ruth Chatterton played that beautifully. Fran is truly conflicted at that moment. She doesn?t have quite the conviction then as she will later when the Kurt thing happens.)

 

 

But if it is true resolve and not self deception that Fran acts, I have a lot _less_ trouble understanding her plan to marry Kurt. The realization had to have come rather suddenly, almost like an epiphany. Earlier there were moments when she seemed quite content. For instance, she's flirts but regrets her little transgressions (Lockhart and Iselin) and and them makes up with Sam. It's not as if she is hating her marriage at these moments. So it came to her suddenly, probably right there at the doorway. She thinks Sam is spying on her and he makes that remark to her that sets her off and she becomes angry. The dam is burst and she is flooded with feelings about her marriage that have been simmering just below the surface for a long time and now they come out and blow her away, if you will.

 

If she really believes she?s been gypped in her marriage, then her decision to marry Kurt is not so far fetched. Going home with Sam must have seemed out of the question to her. And Jackie, you are right :) She wants to be a princess :) You may have meant that tongue-in-cheek because you had a smiley there but it?s actually right on. She didn?t want to marry Kurt because she loved him---she didn?t love him---but she did want to marry into this Old World aristocratic society where she felt she was liked and accepted and in which she would be happy. This is what she felt she deserved.

 

I?m not saying anything earthshaking here but I?m just saying that if Fran was meaning all of this about her marriage having always been unhappy and not just deceiving herself about it, then the plan to marry Kurt, which had before seemed to me to be quixotic if not downright incomprehensible, is actually no surprise at all, in fact, makes a lot of sense from Fran?s point of view.

 

Also, in that final scene aboard the return home ship, Fran makes that statement about Sam being partly the blame. I did not take that as a sweeping statement about her marriage history with Sam. I thought she was referring to Sam?s actions and words during the Kurt showdown when she might have felt that her hand had been forced when Sam was ?spying? on her and making those provocative statements about Iselin and her being ?fascinated? with Kurt, etc. Remember too the context of that last scene with Sam and Fran. Everything she was saying to Sam was ROT. They wrote the scene that way to make her seem selfish, demanding, fault-finding, ungrateful, presumptuous, and her remark about Sam being the blame was said in this context and consequently came across to me as totally false. This was also the last thing she said to him before he got up and ordered the steward to get his bags because he wasn?t going home with her?And yet it makes nice hay if we can take her blame remark to refer to the marriage as a whole as well--- _and I think it does_ ---and feel at the same time that she might be referring to the earlier Kurt incident too...in which case it would make for a nice double ?entendre. :)

 

Thank you, *Jackie*, for these previous two posts. I admire your ability to muse about these things the way you do. Your little ramblings are food for thought. And they cleared me up a bit on the Fran marriage business discussed above. I give you a heap of credit for that. Thanks.

 

:)

 

L

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This is the beauty of these discussions. For me I look at a movie and try and watch it more closely than I used to but there are things I don't see or think about until I read comments like these. I get to think about it and think maybe I watched it more closely than I thought. I just need to react to what has already been written. At times it seems when there is nothing left to say - surprise - someone comes up with another perspective. It's great.

 

Edited by: movieman1957 on Dec 5, 2009 10:10 AM

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I really love chatting with you guys! And I agree, movieman- I get some surprises from the discussions on the boards, and enjoy having my eyes opened.

 

About the last scene - They were trying to make Fran the bad guy, and in a way she was... Her blaming Sam for everything that is wrong is typical of her - she blames the ship passengers for the draft she is feeling (it is really Sam's coldness she is feeling for the first time), she blames Kurt's mother for her problems, she blames everyone but herself and he has just had it with that behavior and sees she will never change. She will continue to make him pay for the rest of his life, rather than work on the problems they have.

 

It is sort of like the Scrooge character for women - I am realizing how this kind of buried, simmering anger can ruin your life. As you say, I don't think she really saw her marriage as bad at all, she sometimes seems to just be blowing of steam, but then there it is, all that frustration and blame, bubbling up. I think if you asked Fran at the end if her marriage was bad, she would say not at all. Then there might be a beat while she turns away, feeling uncomfortable with that answer. She just can't face the truth. But it can't be good if you are just stuck with each other, or the other person is just a stepping stone to something you want.

 

I look at Fran and see myself (hopefully she is much worse than me), and I see that blaming those around you for your situation leads to total unhappiness. Hiding from the truth gets you slapped in the face, at least metaphorically. Fran has never had to face herself or life. She is kind of a baby, having everything taken care of for her all her life. What she needs to do is take some baby steps toward being on her own. But of course, she is kind of lazy, and she won't do that. She will find someone and then maybe someone else till she is comfortable bossing them around, queen of the universe again.

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Let me duck this in...I meant to bring this up earlier...

 

It's about Fran's money. Has it been brought up at all the fact that Fran has her own money and the impact of that on the story? It?s makes them an atypical couple in an important way. Fran?s financial independence made it possible for her to rent the villa in Switzerland. Otherwise she would have had to rely on support from Iselin which would have made the whole venture a bit more sinister, perhaps a bit overtly illicit. It would have entailed a considerable risk for Fran, one that she would not have been willing to make at that time IMO. And Sam, for all his leniency and permissiveness towards Fran, would not have allowed her to go to Switzerland under those circumstances. In a traditional marriage, especially at that time, the woman is totally dependent on her husband for support. Fran financial independence gives her a freedom that most women never have in marriage.

 

We don?t know for sure but Sam is probably a self-made man and his fortune is probably first generation while Fran could be old money, which means that Fran is already rich at the time of her marriage. Sam is older than Fran so we don?t know exactly how much money he had at the time of their marriage but it is possible that some of Fran?s resentment might be due to his high ambition to succeed in business and amass all this money when she herself is not even in need of financial support and at the same time being forced to endure neglect. The baby comes and that entraps her a little and then she finds herself making this home for Sam. You can almost see the writing on the wall. I don?t think she expected Sam to sit around and do nothing but she might have been surprised or perhaps already aware of his drive to succeed and the attendant danger that there might be less time for her.. It makes me wonder why Fran even married Sam. Okay, she obviously loved him?but think how much more sense it would have made with her to have married someone compatible and well off and who did not need to work, or at least not so much as to be the ambitious, driving force that was Sam.

 

With Kurt, she was striving to achieve a happiness that had proved impossible with Sam. She would have an adoring husband who was free to lavish attention upon her and she would have as well the respect and position within the family. It?s a little painful to realize that when Kurt?s mother refused her, she tried to buy her way into the marriage?but was refused. Her money did not help her. So much for good ole American know how and riches.

 

I was thinking how easy it is for us to have sympathy for Fran. We are---most of us anyway---liberal minded enough to realize the generality of Fran?s predicament, that she is not a bad person, that she is beset with fears and obsessions, that she is looking for a happiness she feels somehow has escaped her and we can root for her even though we might acknowledge that she made mistakes and comes off inconsiderate and selfish at times. This picture of her on the ship after Sam left her is cold and wrenching?almost cruel.

 

dodsfranalone.jpg

*Too cruel?*

 

But in 1936, it?s not the liberal minded who rule, it?s the starkly conservative bent of The Code. Fran gets a bad end in this movie because she has to be punished, I guess anyway. I wouldn't have minded if the movie had been more even-handed with Fran at the end. Instead it practically relishes in her demise and the wrap up is telling. She has this bad scene with Sam and then she comes off badly in the yelling match as Sam leaves. Sam and Edith get this storybook ending that nearly makes us weep for joy at their happiness and poor Fran is bereft on the ship, an abandoned woman. She is set up, apparently, as the object of a cautionary tale about women who transgresses against marriage and who must get just desserts. We can feel for her today in a way that maybe was not possible in 1936.

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