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Friday, June 17, 2016

The Old Maid (1939)

After 2 years of waiting for her fiance (George Brent) to return, a girl (Miriam Hopkins) marries someone else. He returns on the day of her wedding but she refuses his attention. Her cousin (Bette Davis) however has always loved him and follows him. He dies in the Civil war leaving the cousin an unwed mother. The married cousin adopts the child and raises her as her own while the real mother becomes a bitter old maid watching her daughter brought up by someone else. Based on the Edith Wharton novel by way of Zoe Akins' Pulitzer prize winning play and directed by Edmund Goulding. Bette Davis had a stellar year in 1939. In addition to this film, she was the doomed heroine of DARK VICTORY, the going mad Empress in JUAREZ and Elizabeth I in PRIVATE LIVES OF ELIZABETH AND ESSEX. She's rather reined in here which makes a good contrast to Hopkins' bubbly belle and they have a good chemistry together although reputedly once the camera stopped, it was a different story. The film is an excellent example of a quality soap opera, repressed emotions with things left unspoken for years as the two women live under the same roof and the conflict builds.  With Jane Bryan, William Lundigan, Donald Crisp, Jerome Cowan, James Stephenson and Louise Fazenda.

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