EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?
|THAT CERTAIN WOMAN (director/writer: Edmund Goulding; cinematographer: Ernest Haller; editor: Jack Killifer; music: Max Steiner; cast: Bette Davis (Mary Donnell), Henry Fonda (Jack Merrick, Jr.), Anita Louise (Flip Merrick), Ian Hunter (Lloyd Rogers), Donald Crisp (Jack Merrick, Sr.), Hugh O'Connell (Reporter Virgil Whitaker); Runtime: 93; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Robert Lord/Hal B. Wallis/Jack L. Warner; Warner Brothers; 1937)|
|"If you like the pic,
it's clearly because of Bette Davis."
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Writer-director Edmund Goulding ("The Razor's
Edge"/"Nightmare Alley"/"The Old Maid")
finely directs this
well-produced glossy melodrama remake of his own smash-hit The
Trespasser (1929), which starred Gloria Swanson in her
talkie debut. Bette Davis plays the Swanson role.
Mary Donnell (Bette Davis) is a 16-year-old innocent married to a
bootlegger. When hubby gets
bumped off, Mary desires a straight life and gets hired as a secretary
to the wealthy attorney Lloyd Rogers (Ian Hunter). Though Lloyd falls in love with the widowed
Mary, he keeps those feelings to himself. Jack (Henry Fonda), the son of Lloyd's
millionaire client Merrick (Donald Crisp), is the playboy who falls in
love with Mary. They elope, but Merrick thinks his son married beneath
him and when he digs into Mary's past annuls the marriage. Though
reluctant, Jack agrees. Thereby the single again Mary returns to her
old job. Mary becomes pregnant and has a baby boy sired by Jack. She
tells her secret to Lloyd and swears him to secrecy. In the meantime,
Jack marries someone of his own class named Flip (Anita Louise).
Tragedy hits when she's fatally injured in an automobile accident.
Also, if you can believe, Lloyd becomes
ill and dies, but not before confessing his love for her. Lloyd has
left Mary and her child a fortune in his will, which leads his wife (
illegitimate child and tries to stop Mary's inheritance. As a result
Mary confides the truth to Jack, which leads his nasty father to try
and take away the child because he contends Mary is an unfit mother.
The frustrated Mary gives in to the pressure caused by Merrick and
leaves the child with Jack. But while a distraught Mary fled to Europe,
Flo conveniently dies and, in the end, Jack treks to Europe to find
If you like the pic, it's
clearly because of Bette Davis. She
excels in a role calling for a mother's self-sacrificial
love to win the audience over. It's a tearjerker woman's pic, one that
is busy with a lot of folks conveniently dying to aid the plot and most
of the action coming off as contrived. When seriously examined, this soap story
doesn't stand up to scrutiny--it has a ring of sudsy untruth.
REVIEWED ON 5/17/2011 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
© ALL RIGHTS RESERVED DENNIS SCHWARTZ