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In This Our Life, 1942..worth a look


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Inthisourlife2.jpg

A rather pedestrian tale of two feuding sisters that ends in tragedy. Interesting and vivid scene though of bigotry in the 1940s. This scene makes watching the movie worthwhile.

 

Even though the cast is satisfying who wouldn't have wanted to see Olivia de Havilland and her sister Joan Fontaine cast against each other giving them a vehicle to express their feelings about one another. Not sure which one would have been right for the good vs. wild sister.

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I feel had the two sisters been cast, Olivia would have remained the good sister. Although, its tough to really say, in that Olivia being a Warner Brothers contract player, might have been given the lead role as finally played by Bette. This is truly one of those great "what if'?" of the movies, had the two celebrated sisters been showcased in this major melodrama. The novel by Ellen Glasgow was a runaway best seller of the day; thus, never having any doubts of ending up as a major film project. Let's not forget that this film was one of the early directorial assignments of a young John Huston, fresh from this triumph of "The Maltese Falcon." The movie has been considered by many fans of Bette as one of her most interesting, if not, flamboyant performances of her career. This film has in so many ways been overshadowed by Bette's greatest of all success that year of 1942, "Now Voyager."

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Yes, I would have liked to see Joan Fontaine as le bad sister and deHavilland in her original role.

 

It's an inn-teresting film and one I always watch and enjoy...except for the scenes wih George "I just don't give a damn anymore" Brent, who phones in another performance (I know his pre-code films are fine, but he reached some kind of point of no return in the late thirties where he decided to be the most aggresively bland actor in film at the time.)

 

This film joins The Old Maid and Dark Victory as vehicles whose final grade is brought down a notch (in my book) by his presence,

 

All apologies to you Brent fans out there, of whom (for some reasons) there are many.

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In defense of George, I just want to say that he was never so comfortable having become a film star of the 1930s. First off, unbeknownst to a majority of fans and film buffs, George is not American! He was a born Irishman, from the town Shannonsbridge. He came to America at age 11, when his parents died and he lived with relatives. However, at around the time he became a young adult, George returned to Ireland, where he became an active member of the Irish Rebellion! In a move that was more of a cover to his subversive activities with the IRA, he joined the Abbey Theatre as an average, small bit player, not really thinking he could get so attached to the acting profession.

 

When he was just about to be arrested, his colleges in the IRA managed to have him smuggled out of Ireland on a freighter bound for Canada. He used various aliases during his years in Canada, after which he joined another theatre company, touring the countryside. It was while on tour, near the border, George across over into New York State. He came to New York City, where he settled in the Bronx. In the meantime, he went about clearing his name and position while in the U.S. in order to stay and not be deported back to Ireland. He did all sorts of odd-jobs, until landing a gig on Broadway with a small theatre group. It was amazing to see George, able to work his way up the ladder of his chosen profession, becoming a major performer of the Broadway stage. This of course, led to his discovery by a Hollywood talent scout, looking for actors to fill the void created by the new medium of ?talking pictures.? He seemed to be a natural at fitting into the whole scheme of things, when he decided on signing up with Warner Brothers. George would be considered in the same suave and gentleman league of such stars as William Powell, Warren William and Ronald Colman.

 

His years at Warner Brothers were not so cooperative, despite George being able to make a good living as a film star. He hated the whole idea of publicity and the hype that goes along with being under the spotlight. He was at best, rather private and didn?t play the old Hollywood glamour game so willingly, making him at odds with the studio during his most popular years. George would later on be in support of the various stars that brought on lawsuits against the studios, especially Bette Davis and Olivia de Havilland, who George had at times a close relationship with and often ended up being paired with in a movie! Yet, for all of his disagreements with Warner Brothers, George was for at least fifteen years, one of Hollywood?s finest reliable leading men. Certainly, the leading ladies he worked with _all_ loved him to death! George married three of them! They were Ruth Chatterton, Constance Worth and a celebrated but short lived marriage to the mighty Ann Sheridan.

 

As nice a guy George was to all who knew him, he wasn?t exactly so noble along staying so passionately devoted to his wives. He had various affairs with several of his leading ladies. There was once an idea to make a film about the legendary romantic escapades of his career in motion pictures. After he sort of retired on a fulltime basis, some in Hollywood wondered if George would write a book about his life in films. He never took up the idea and for the rest of his life, stayed pretty much involved with a horse breeding business he had successfully established. If anything George loved above all was a passion for horses and a country life that he must have experienced as a child back in Ireland. George was quite a character having done so many interesting things to a life that for the most part was overshadowed by his having become a popular film star of Old Hollywood. As he was technically retired, he did make a few brief reappearances, in some low budget films, but would remain out of the mainstream of his once popular stardom until he died in 1979.

 

Just about everyone who came to know George as a major movie star, couldn?t have ever imagined his rather stirring past before coming to Hollywood. As a motion picture star, George would in time become very much like the guy he usually portrayed on screen. He?d later say that his years in America gave him confidence and mellowed his restless spirit. Bette Davis once said of him, ?When I worked with George, I knew there wouldn?t be any surprises.? His soft spoken manner and easy going personality gave him imagery on screen that was both interesting and acceptable, but did not equate with who he might have been to any degree of character. Never to feel so at ease with himself, George had to learn to accept who he had become. It?s believed by those who knew George that he decided on staying restrained towards his characters on screen, in order to differentiate from others working in the movies. I think this planned worked out good for him and allowed George to remain on the list of popular leading men of Hollywood. Well, he was in end a success to this movie profession that brought him a profitable living and adulation to accomplishing a goal he had never really planned for. This I think is what is so remarkable about George; the whole concept of his getting into motion pictures was by accident and not so much a designated scheme to his life. Had he not been able to achieve movie stardom, he might have returned to Ireland and get into the politics of his native country.

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I remember seeing a photo of George in the early 70's. He had grown a beard { all white } and ask what he was up to, he replied that he was working on a script of a bio of Ernest Hemingway and hope to star in it.He did look quite a bit like Hemingway with the beard, but so many of the greats that had grown old were still looking for a comeback. But who knows. I saw an interview with Donald Crisp shortly before his death and he also had a few irons in the fire and as soon as he was feeling better, he was returning to work.He was 91 at the time of his death.They had never lost that "wonderful people" out there in the dark feeling. More power to them and keeping their dreams alive..

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Brent was to melodrama what Bud Abbott was to comedy - the greatest straight man in the business. While he may not have been "surprising", he was completely believable and at least made the often boring characters he was required to play seem real. Imagine having to play opposite a wife whose baby actually was borne of another woman; or the owner of a chemical plant whose chief scientist turns out to be your wife's first husband - long thought dead! And he did it all with amazing conviction.

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I think the scene that most sticks in my mind when remembering George Brent is in "Jezabele" when after all of Bette's manipulation of the men in the film George admits that he just doesn't understand her, before the duel with Henry Fonda's brother. In that film his character was not the smartest male character but he did capture the essence of the southern gentleman of that era and the importance of southern traditions that the duel exemplified. The old southern gentleman was not as sophisticated as the north but they lived true to their traditions as Brent's character illustrates.

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  • 2 weeks later...

The Maltese Falcon was John Hustons first film.In This Our Life Was his second.As a favor to John,the cast of the Falcon have bits.Walter Huston and Lee Patrick are easy to catch.Bogie and the rest,not so easy.HAPPY HUNTING.

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I have always been left cold by Brent, he doesn't really stand out as a performer. Who can next to Bette Davis? ;-)

 

Thanks for that mini bio MP, maybe I'll gain a better appreciation for him. Did you write that out of your head, pre-write notes & paste, or lift that from another source?

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