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Saturday, February 28, 2015

A Life Of Her Own (1950)

An aspiring model (Lana Turner) leaves her small Kansas hometown for New York where she seeks fame and fortune. But be careful of what you wish for. As directed by George Cukor, the film starts out promisingly. It appears that it might be a hard, dark look at the cutthroat world of fashion modeling. But it soon deflates into a sordid tale of Turner's character having an affair with a married man (Ray Milland). The film might have worked with a stronger actress than Turner, who is miscast as a high fashion model. She doesn't have the figure (too short and thick wasted) or the carriage of a real model. It doesn't help that she and Milland (who's pretty bad here) have zero chemistry. Apparently the film's downbeat ending was changed at the studio's insistence. Two performances stand out however. Ann Dvorak is wonderful as an aging model turned party girl at the end of her tether. She brings a reality and a truth to the film and when her character exits the film, it never recovers. The other performance is that of Margaret Phillips as Milland's wife. In what could have been a cliche of the martyr wife, she brings a quiet dignity and class to the role. There's a lovely score by Bronislau Kaper (so lovely he reused it again two years later for INVITATION). With Tom Ewell, Barry Sullivan, Jean Hagen, Louis Calhern, Phyllis Kirk, Lurene Tuttle and Kathleen Freeman.

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