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Dodsworth: Honesty without crudity


slaytonf
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slaytonf wrote:

<< And all without psycho-babble, obscenity, vulgarity, or reference to outrages committed in childhood. >>

 

Production code forbidden. Would have been remarkable if this was a *modern* film but who watches such a topic rated PG nowadays?

 

I think the last film with mild overtones was "The Seven Year Itch" (1955) regarding marriage / divorce.

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>The ending was just perfect but I'm still surprised the production code didn't forbid such a ending.

 

I like this movie a lot, but it's a little odd that the husband got what the wife wanted..... a younger spouse. But the wife got all the blame, while the huband got the hot young dame who was even willing to live with him before they got married. :)

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Astor wasn't a young dame. When they all first meet Mrs. Dodsworth is celebrating her birthday and says she is 35 years old. This is of course a lie. Astor's character comments that she is older than 35 (something along the lines of 'when you're my age,,,'.. It is implied by at least a few years. So I assume Astor's character was in her late 30s, at least, based on her comments and that the two gals were of similar age.

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"Dodsworth" is about the wife's mid-life crisis, she treats her husband badly, has a fling, is rejected and the husband takes her back.

 

At the last minute, literally, the husband reneges and runs off with a younger woman.

 

Now, contrast the plot of Dodsworth" with that of "The Women". Mary, played by Norma Shearer gets cheated on but returns triumphantly to her husband in the end.

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Here is the original review that appeared in Variety for this motion picture:

 

imgres8.jpg

 

Dodsworth is a superb motion picture and a golden borealis over the producer's name.

 

Sidney Howard transposes his own stage play version of Sinclair Lewis' novel into a picture that uses the camera to open up the vista a little and enrich a basically fertile theme. Picture has a steady flow and an even dramatic wallop from zippy start to satisfying finish.

 

Dodsworth was Walter Huston on the stage and is logically and perfectly the same actor on the screen. This is the kind of a role stars dream about.

 

It is also obvious that this is Ruth Chatterton's fanciest opportunity on the screen in a long while. Fran Dodsworth is a silly, vain, selfish, shallow kitten and in the playing of it Chatterton comes to life with vividness and humanity.

 

Mary Astor is the sympathetic other woman to whom Dodsworth ultimately turns. Her footage is limited. Her performance is varied and mature.

 

Three men cross the path of the age-fearing wife on her grand fling. First an Englishman played by David Niven. Then a suave continental played by Paul Lukas. Last a sincere and youthful Austrian played by George Gaye. Each of the lovers is a case of slick casting. Mother of the Austrian who finally strikes home with the pampered American woman is beautifully performed by Maria Ouspenskaya.

 

___

Dodsworth. (1936). Variety Movie Reviews, (1), 17.

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Oh, Fred. Did you even read my post???? It doesn't matter how old Astor actually was but how old her character was in the film.

 

Astor clearly was playing a character that was older than she was. Dodsworth is a fictional character! I'm not sure you understand that. So he didn't end up with a young dame, but a women in her late 30s to early 40s.

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Well James, I'm with Fred. Mary Astor's character, whatever her age, is such a sympathetic presence it's no wonder Dodsworth ends up with her. She looks very good, even if she may not be a "young babe". Even Chatterton looks good, but had she gone off on a fling, then tried to come back, there is no way I would have taken her back, especially with Astor in the wings.

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Well the reason I'm making the point is that I had seen Dodsworth many times but it wasn't until last night that I paid attention to Astor's comment about her age. While it was just a passing comment it does say a lot about these two women. Astor's character could be open about her age. She didn't need to pretend because she had depth of character. Chatterton had to be phony and this provided insight into how shallow and empty she was.

 

Dodsworth didn't come back to Astor's character because of looks. That shallow angle would of made the overall story a lot less interesting.

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In my biography Ruth Chatterton-Actress, Aviator, Author, I mention that she had to be coaxed for over a year to play Fran. She had walked out of the Broadway play, because she found Fran such an "unpleasant person." The fact was that Chatterton was afraid to play a woman who was trying to hang on to her youth. On that score Fran was very much like Ruth herself.

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She probably realized that movie offers were not what they once were. It was one of her last great hurrahs on the screen. She would do two British programmers for producer Herbert Wilcox and within two years her days as a motion picture star were over. By comparison, Walter Huston's film career continued until 1950.

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At least Chatterton had the ability to redefine her life after Hollywood. Her passion for aviation and theater kept her very active. During the 1950's her career as a well-respected author took most by surprise. No shrinking violet, Ruth was a very progressive woman who spoke her mind.

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I've always thought her performance the best one of the film. Mr. Huston does a great job, but his is the sympathetic character. Much more difficult for Miss Chatterton to realize an unpleasant character, without becoming irritating--even inspiring a little sympathy. But, of course, love has to stop short of suicide.

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>For me, the most memorable line in the movie is when Astor says to Huston, "We?.....We?", when Huston has said "we'll go someplace". It's the first time he has implied a long-term interest in her.

 

A wonderful moment. He doesn't even catch it. He goes and looks for the map. The scene ends well though, a well-crafted "love" scene. Edith Cortright is an immensely attractive character, I practically fell in love with her the first time I saw this film.

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