Friday, July 8, 2016

In This Our Life

I mentioned last week that I apparently haven't done a full-length post on In This Our Life before. It's coming on tonight at 8:00 PM as part of the salute to Star of the Month Olivia de Haviland, and it's worth a watch.

Bette Davis stars as Stanley Timblerlake, sister of Roy (that's de Havilland); both are nieces of Uncle William (Charles Coburn). Stanley is engaged to Craig (George Brent), while Roy is already married to Peter (Dennis Morgan). But Stanley decides she'd rather have Peter, so she schemes to get him, and then runs off to the big city with him! Once Peter's divorce from Roy is finalized, he and Stanley get married, but Stanley continues to be a controlling blankety-blank. In fact, she's so controlling that poor Peter decides the only way out of this marriage is to kil himself! Meow.

So Stanley comes back to her old home town. By now, Roy is doing well for herself by having fallen in love with Craig; after all they were both screwed over by Stanley. Craig is a prosperous lawyer, helping out young black clerk Parry (Ernest Anderson), who has dreams of going on to law school to become an attorney. (Pretty daring stuff for a 1940s film, to be honest.) Not that Stanley is any more racist than the rest of American society; she's just a selfish controlling you-know-what. So one night Stanley has a little too much to drink, and gets into an accident. What's the easiest thing to do? Why, blame it on the young black kid!

All along the way Stanley has been enabled by her uncle William, as the family was wealthy and Stanley was more like her mother (William's sister). But this time when she tries to get help from William, there's a plot twist, that allows Bette Davis to have one of her better screen rants.

Supposedly Bette Davis didn't think much of In This Our Life, but I think that's quite unfair. Sure, it's a melodrama, but it's a really fun melodrama, and one that gives Davis a chance to strut her stuff in spades. It's only natural that she takes the chance and runs with it. Everybody else does well, although George Brent and especially Dennis Morgan don't have much to do. This one is Davis' picture all the way.

In This Our Life doesn't seem to be in print on DVD.

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