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THE CONSTANT NYMPH (1943) to air on TCM


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I was just glad to be able to see it finally. I thought Fontaine was wonderful. I'm actually surprised at the number of comments saying she was so obviously too old. I thought she pulled it off very well as a matter of fact. Her early scenes really do convey the energy and awkwarkness of adolescence. I thought she seemed very natural and not all "forced". I have never been a Charles Boyer fan, so I'm with those who would have preferred somebody else in the role, but, all in all, I thought it was an enjoyable movie.

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I'm a little surprised that Warners' original casting choices for The Constant Nymph had been Errol Flynn and Joan Leslie. Although Leslie was much closer in the age to the role of Tessa than Joan Fontaine, she hadn't really shown a much depth as an actress until then. Maybe Warners were beginning to regard her as something of a good luck charm, with Leslie having just been the female co-star in two Warners productions that had netted their male stars Academy Awards (Cooper in Sergeant York, followed by Cagney in Yankee Doodle Dandy). Nymph was certainly prestige production, the type the studio might have thought would be in a potential race for awards.

 

As far as Flynn was concerned, Warners had shown a decided reluctance until then to cast their resident action hero in anything, such as that of a musical composer in this film, that didn't reinforce his stereotyped screen image (much the same as their other big stars). A few years after this film, of course, Flynn was cast in a similar role in Escape Me Never. Flynn received horrible reviews which, according to Vincent Sherman, caused the insecure actor to become rebellious and difficult on the set of his current film-in-production, Adventures of Don Juan.

 

However, Flynn's performance in Escape Me Never is interesting if inconsistent, not at all, in my opinion, the disaster critics described it to be at the time. In his early scenes in the film, with Ida Lupino, he does some quite natural acting. Robert Osborne, in fact, in one of this introductions to Escape me Never, said that he thought Flynn's character in the film (that of a charming, self absorbed womanizer) was the closest that the actor had ever come to playing himself on screen.

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Flynn reveals a part of himself in all his movies.

 

Boyer had some sort of deal at Warners at this time. He would soon make CONFIDENTIAL AGENT with Lauren Bacall, which seems like an unusual pairing since most of her movies during this period were with Bogart.

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*TopBilled states:*

*. . . Boyer had some sort of deal at Warners at this time. He would soon make CONFIDENTIAL AGENT with Lauren Bacall* . . .

 

 

 

This is another movie I would Love to see. Peter Lorre stars in this one too. I was able to catch some glimpses of it on Youtube some time ago but Now, it doesn't come up at all ... It's another movie I'll eventually have to purchase.

 

 

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> {quote:title=ugaarte wrote:}{quote}Are there any movies where Joan Fontaine comes off with 'bravada' or 'in you face' kind of acting ...

> a 'bad girl' so to speak ??

> It would be interesting to know.

>

She's not really a villain or "bad girl" in it, but in the 1963 episode of "The Alfred Hitchcock Hour" entitled "The Paragon" Joan Fontaine plays a rather unlikeable lady who dominates everyone's lives.

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In response to several posters:

 

Yes, Jonny, I do think Joan deserved her Oscar nomination for this (and I do agree Ida Lupino deserved one also)...

 

I think Joan has gone on record as saying Constant Nymph was her favorite role. I'm not sure if it means her favorite film too. Letter from an Unknown Woman is also one of her favorite films........

 

I think she pulls off the age thing very well. It's never made clear just exactly how old this character is. I think she could pass for an older teenager (though she does look older than Joyce Reynolds)......

 

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea! LOL. I forgot about that one. I wont spoil what happens to Joan in that! Joan said she did that one for the money........

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, and I agree the opening part of the film could almost be cut entirely (aside from some tidbits of information that could've been added in later) I wonder if that part was in the play?

 

 

 

It's never made quite clear what is wrong with Tessa in the film. There are a couple mentions about "heart lesions" or a lesion on her ventricle? Alexis Smith comments once that it's nothing to worry about. You'd think she would've been under a doctor's care (but, hey, that would spoil the story!)

 

Edited by: Hibi on Sep 30, 2011 7:51 AM

 

Edited by: Hibi on Sep 30, 2011 7:56 AM

 

Edited by: Hibi on Sep 30, 2011 8:03 AM

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We did need to know about the background between Boyer's character and Fontaine's father. However, this could've been seen in a shortened sequence (montage) at the beginning or a bit later as a detailed flashback. It certainly did not have to take thirty minutes of screen time to set up the relationships and get to the main story.

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it's worth noting that Edmound Goulding directed this, and it's worth a trip to imdb to check out his very varied output.

 

He directed Grand Hotel : one of only two pictures in all filmdom's history to win the Oscar for Best Picture and not be nominated for direction; he directed Best Picture nominees Dark Victory and The Razor's Edge and was not nominated for either; he directed several actresses to lead acting nominations: Bette Davis, Fay Bainter (in White Banners ) and Fontaine. Mary Astor won an Oscar under his direction for The Great Lie - (although numerous sources have claimed Bette Davis and Astor improvised a lot of dialogue and directed themselves as they thought little of Goulding's talents.) He directed Tyrone Power's one truly great performance in Nightmare Alley and he directed Clifton Webb and Edmund Gwenn to Oscar nods for Razor's Edge and Mister 880 respectively. He also seems to have run the gamut of studios, from MGM to WB to Fox; and he went years between directing films later in his career (he didn't direct again after Nymph for some two years)

 

A lot of his films are good, but flawed in some way or the other that keeps them from being truly great: The Old Maid , Nymph and Dark Victory among them.

 

I would say Grand Hotel and Nightmare Allery are truly great films though.

 

Edited by: JonnyGeetar on Sep 30, 2011 9:13 PM

 

Edited by: JonnyGeetar on Sep 30, 2011 9:19 PM

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I agree that this is not Joan's best performances but I think she did the teenager angst pretty well. Her malady I think was some kind of heart deal and as far as doctors I think the family was too poor for that, at least until the dad died. I think Rebecca is my favorite Fontaine performance.

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Jonny, while listing Goulding's directorial achievements, please don't omit the 1938 remake of *The Dawn* *Patrol*. The rapport that exists among Errol Flynn, David Niven and Basil Rathbone in this version is considerably superior to that of the three original actors (Richard Barthelmess, Douglas Fairbanks Jr and Neil Hamilton) in the Hawks version. It's a fine film, even if a bit dated by the material.

 

I believe that Goulding, somewhat like Cukor, had a reputation as being a woman's director. However it seems to me that with the three male performances in this film, not to mention the likes of the Barrymore brothers in Grand Hotel, and Ty Power in Nightmare Alley, that he did well with actors, as well.

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> {quote:title=TomJH wrote:}{quote}Jonny, while listing Goulding's directorial achievements, please don't omit the 1938 remake of *The Dawn* *Patrol*.

I noticed the title, but I have never seen it.

(JonnyGeetar hangs his head in shame.)

 

Next time I can, I'll check it out.

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> {quote:title=thestick wrote:}{quote}I agree that this is not Joan's best performances but I think she did the teenager angst pretty well. Her malady I think was some kind of heart deal and as far as doctors I think the family was too poor for that, at least until the dad died. I think Rebecca is my favorite Fontaine performance.

I didn't watch this whole movie, only parts, so maybe it's not fair for me to comment on it but the part I did see, I found Joan Fontaine to be totally charismatic. I hardly recognized her. Far different than the Ice Godesses she normally played. Loved her in it!!

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  • 3 months later...

That's true about *Rebecca*, and Joan was good in it, and well-suited to the part. But I think it's also because *Rebecca* is just such a good film, based on a very good novel.

 

Although I did enjoy *The Constant Nymph*, I did feel that Joan overdid it a little with the frolicking eager young thing bit. I know she's supposed to be a teenager, and a very innocent and impulsive one at that.

Full of enthusiasm and joi de vivre and all that. But a few times I thought she was just too, too, jejune and wide-eyed. Not her fault, really, I imagine that's how she was directed.

Also, young girls ( those who really are sixteen), can be a bit much with their sometimes almost hectic and impetuous energy. (not that there's anything wrong with youthful enthusiasm.)

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{font:Times New Roman} {font}

 

*{font:}{color:black}Finance wrote: {font}*

 

{font:Times New Roman} {font}

{font:}From the comments on these boards over the years, I believe that REBECCA is just about everyone's favorite Fontaine performance{font}{font:}{color:black}.{font}

 

{font:Times New Roman} {font}

{font:}{color:black}Not mine; it's *Jane Eyre* which is on tonight. I think Orson Welles and she make a great romantic team; at least I believe them as lovers. Add to that Elizabeth Taylor showing even then she had the goods, Margaret O’Brien, Peggy Ann Garner, Agnes Moorehead and the gothic setting and you have a real gem. It's also nice for us who remember that far back to see Hillary Brooke without her Amana refrigerator. Curling up for a great night. {font}

 

{font:Times New Roman} {font}

{font:Times New Roman} {font}

 

{font:Times New Roman} {font}

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> Finance wrote:

> From the comments on these boards over the years, I believe that REBECCA is just about everyone's favorite Fontaine performance{color:black}.

>

> {quote:title=wouldbestar wrote:}{quote}{font:Times New Roman} {font}

> {color:black}Not mine; it's *Jane Eyre* which is on tonight.

>

>

>

> And not mine either. That would be Letter From an Unknown Woman which was on a few days ago.

>

 

Edited by: JonnyGeetar on Jan 30, 2012 8:47 PM

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> {quote:title=finance wrote:}{quote}From the comments on these boards over the years, I believe that REBECCA is just about everyone's favorite Fontaine performance

>

 

Definitely not my favorite. In fact, I dislike *Rebecca* because of her performance. But, I haven't seen it in decades, because I disliked it so much. I should probably watch it again.

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{font:Times New Roman} {font:}{color:black}I feel awful! I really wanted to see this movie but fell asleep halfway through it and woke up just before the showdown scene between Tessa and Florence. It might not have been the movie but the La Septima nightclubs keeping me awake on week-end nights. {font}

 

{font:}{color:black}I agree that the beginning was not interesting but did think Joan looked convincing as a gangly teen-ager; it kept me from looking at her face and seeing 24 rather than 16. With all that collapsing her dying was rather a given even if you missed a part. I’m not a Boyer fan but can accept that two other women might want him. In that last scene did Florence give Lewis his freedom not knowing that Tessa had just died in the next room? If so what an ironic ending. {font}

 

 

{font:}{color:black}I’ll try to watch this all the way through but from what I saw the two star rating is correct.{font}

 

 

{font:}{color:black}I saw *Born to be Bad *and have seen* Ivy* and *Letter from an Unknown Woman*. All are good. You know how much I love *Ivanhoe.* You might like *The Bigamist* with Edmond O’Brien and Ida Lupino as well. It was produced by Ida and her ex-husband who was then married to Joan-I wonder, did he feel like one during production? Oh and Boyer starred with Olivia in *Hold Back the Dawn* which got her an Oscar nomination and I actually liked him in. He’s a cad there too but redeemable. He seemed to bring good luck to both sisters.{font}

 

{font}

 

Edited by: wouldbestar on Jan 31, 2012 6:02 PM

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I have been waiting decades to see The Constant Nymph and I also found it only 'OK'. It had a great cast but the story just wasn't compelling enough. I didn't view Boyer and Joan as having any type of sexual affair. Instead I saw her more has his muse. Once he is able to express himself through his music she is no longer necessary.

 

Hold Back the Dawn is a much better film. But yes, Boyer did help each sister out in the early 1940s.

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