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Dis Dodsworth?


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Disparaging Dodsworth has become a popular pastime. I think a good part of that is the reaction to reflexive adualtion that builds up around works of art and other things (the Mona Lisa, Shakespeare, Sports Heroes, etc.). Beyond that, I see no basis for objections to the movie. It's true a lot of its value comes from the source material, the novel by Sinclair Lewis. Nontheless, few movies I know deal more honestly and directly about human relations. This despite the restrictions of the code. Today, with little limitation on subject matter or language, if any, no films come closer to the mark.

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1929:

 

http://i550.photobucket.com/albums/ii408/fredricmarchforever/1921a%20The%20Dummy/TD8x10Dumdum.jpg

 

She had been in Broadway plays and didn't make her first movie until she was 35 years old. She was 43 in Dodsworth. She gets no man at the end of the movie, while 53 year old Mr. Dodsworth gets 30 year old Mary Astor.

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I think just about everyone in this film is perfect. It's a 10 in my book. However, I find it hard to sympathize with Fran, because she keeps Sam on a yo-yo. Go Away! No Come Back, I Need You! Go Away again, A Younger Man wants to marry me! You're such a bore and so provincial and you're spying on me! Let's let bygones be bygones!

 

It's so frustrating. And Mary Astor is so good.

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I think its a fine movie. The way Chatterton deals with her aging and the way she wants to change her life while Huston wants to move in another direction makes for a sad situation in a marriage.

 

My favorite scene though is when David Niven after his short and odd shipboard "romance" with Chatterton's "Mrs. Dodsworth" tells her off in no uncertain but oh so eloquent and sharp tongued terms. Never has anyone been ripped a new one with such finesse.

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h4. Fran Dodsworth and Fanny Skeffington: Self-Illusionists

I agree, yet I definitely agree with helenbaby's assessment of Chatterton's character too. When the story really gets going in Europe, I thought back to the movie Mr Skeffington, and another self-illusionist, Fanny.

 

Fanny had the same sort of issues going on. She went to the therapist. The therapist confronted her. But Fanny already had this inner-battle with herself following her illness.

 

All of Fran's (Chatterton) motivations seem so weak, maybe the book is better explaining Fran's growing restlessness with Dodsworth. Maybe if she was a spectacular beauty; but she's not and she seems to have zero personality factor too. I couldn't figure out what even Dodsworth was seeing in her and he's known her the longest! I thought all his loving gestures seemed so removed from what he should be feeling. I do like the twist in the story once she makes up her mind (at least as far as men goes). She is selfish, no?

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Like casablancalover I too noticed the similar themes of Mr Skeffington & Dodsworth. It is difficult to see what the attraction was for both men of the women beyond looks, but maybe that is the true message.

 

The biggest difference I see is the adultery issue. In Skeffington, it seemed ok they forgave each others indescretions since sex was less important than companionship at that point.

 

But I'll never understand why faithful Dodsworth would ever desire or even accept his cheating wife back. It makes him seem like a real chump. There is no nobility in ignorance in my book.

 

The only thing that saves Dodsworth is Huston's strong subtle performance. And I really enjoy Mary Astor's serene portrayal as well.

I think we all might have enjoyed Chatterton's charactor if she was played a little more vivacious (charming, flirtatious) like Bette Davis' Fanny.

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And I agree with you, TikiSoo. Nobility in Dodsworth? No.

 

Dodsworth's behavior seems phony to me. Fran's actions aren't worth the nobility of his response.

 

I just thought of two other Wyler films where the cuckold husband fared far better with the audience.

 

When I compare the dynamics of Dosworth's marriage to ones Wyler shows us in The Letter and The Little Foxes, (both with Herbert Marshall) I see a much better rounded out character of the victimized husband. Both of those films has you rooting for the husband, for he finds ways that he is self-actualized even as his wife (Hum, both with Bette Davis) goes further to contrive her selfish antics.

 

One of the best and strongest moments in The Letter is when Marshall's character uncovers the truth about the letter.

 

One of the strongest moments of The Little Foxes is Marshall's playing against the combined forces of Davis and her brothers.

 

To me, Dodsworth character doesn't have that moment.

 

Maybe Fran Dodsworth should've shot somebody, or committed white collar crime.

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They're movies, not real life.

 

In the late 90s, Harrison Ford was considering a remake of *Dodsworth*, but he decided against the project because he was too young for the role! He would have been in his mid-50s. Walter Huston was 53 when he played the part.

 

 

 

 

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Dodsworth's behavior seems phony to me. Fran's actions aren't worth the nobility of his response.

 

It might have had more to do with the mores of the time. I think the film was quite progressive for its time, so the family values audience had to be assured that Dodsworth did everything he could to stay with his adulterous wife.

 

Phony? I don't agree. I think he went above and beyond. I would have kicked her to the curb at word one.

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The glowing face of a radiant Mary Astor in the fiinal fadeout was a great way to end "Dodsworth". She was charming and natural and a delight. Such a contrast from the constant and irritating bickering between Chatterton and Huston. The picture has not aged well.

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Sorry to say, I have never seen *Mr. Skeffington* - I don't know how I've always managed to miss it, I certainly cannot complain that TCM never airs it. Next time it shows, I must make a point of catching it.

 

"That said", I watched *Dodsworth* for the second time last night. I think all three leads give convincing and effective performances. The Fran character is foolish, shallow, and self-deceiving. Her final scene, the one in which she is re-united with her husband (again) reveals that she has learned nothing. It is not only her taking Sam for granted, it is the way she complains about trivial matters, gossips unbecomingly about other women's appearances, and generally behaves like a selfish bore. Something that is very difficult to understand is her complete lack of interest in her new grandchild. Yes, I'm aware that she wants others to think she is considerably younger than her real age, but surely family love would trump those worries. I'm afraid I can't think of any redeeming qualities about this character.

 

Perhaps Sam Dodsworth had to see her in a new light, literally - a new setting, removed from their domestic routine at home in their American town - before he could see her as the selfish shallow person she was.

 

One complaint about the film - it felt much like a filmed play, something I usually don't enjoy. Most of the scenes were long dialogue pieces, set in enormous carefully furnished drawing rooms. The only thing that changed was the location of the drawing room - a ship, a hotel in Paris, Dodsworth's American home, a hotel in Vienna, etc. And it was fairly clear that it was all the same set, just with the props slightly altered or moved around a bit. Not that this really matters, it's not essential in any way to the story and characters, which were both engaging and strong. But it did add to that "play-like" atmosphere that I dislike in movies.

Oh well, a quibble, I know.

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I agree with your comment about filmed plays, misswonderly, which is why I don't like most movies made from plays. They always feel talky and confined. Even when the conversation is meant to appear casual, the words seem too well chosen, too exact. As Dodsworth was adapted from a novel, perhaps Robert Osborne's comments about it being shot on the Sam Goldwyn lot can give a clue. There wasn't the budget for much exterior work, so it ended up indoors.

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I would not say a thing against' *Dodsworth* (1936) because it is a fine movie with a wonderful cast and is based on a moving novel. I have read that some find it drab or boring and I can not agree with that.

 

I can say it is not one of my favorites. None of it touches me and none of the characters resonate. I know I have watched it at least twice and I do not remember any scene or element of the plot. It is a rare thing that no single thing remains with me.

 

I can only liken it to cold pea soup: there is nothing at all wrong with it but I do not find myself craving it.

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SansFin--I'm not the type to try to convince anyone to like a film, but I find that the film resonates with me because I've known women who are like Fran Dodsworth and men like Sam who try to salvage their marriages until it's obvious it can't go on. Like my older sister, who drank herself to death at age 39. She just could not stand getting older & loved attention from men, even though she was married. Nothing that drastic happens to Fran, but I could see her going home and jumping into the bottle out of regret. I'm just glad Sam finally realizes happiness, even though he is somewhat to blame for the failure of their marriage.

 

Sorry to get morbid.

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>None of it touches me and none of the characters resonate. I know I have watched it at least twice and I do not remember any scene or element of the plot. It is a rare thing that no single thing remains with me.

 

Perfectly said. I was reluctant to see a screening of this recently but (as usual) was talked into it. This movie definitely fares better with an audience than a TV viewing. I also noticed Huston brings an interesting understated quality to his role that is easily overlooked.

 

I think the fact the mother is more interested in herself than her daughter & grandchild is just another heavy handed (& unrealistic) point the story makes. Wish the story was more subtle & the performances more dramatic.

 

And the comment on the closing with Astor's beaming face was a good one, I agree.

 

PS I caught a teeny bit of the Maltese Falcon yesterday & discovered Miss Wonderly's namesake! Haha-_YOU'RE_ Mary Astor!

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