Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

THE GAY SISTERS


THE GAY SISTERS (1942). Director: Irving Rapper.

The Gaylord Sisters have been waiting 27 years for their father's will to be probated, but a stubborn businessman named Charles Barclay (George Brent) refuses to accept their settlement offer. Seems the man has a personal grudge against one of the sisters, Fiona (Barbara Stanwyck), the reason for which comes out as this highly entertaining movie progresses. The other sisters Evelyn (Geraldine Fitzgerald) and Susie (Nancy Coleman) don't like each other very much, with a true-to-form Evelyn doing her best to steal Susie's beau, Gig Young (played by Gig Young, who took his screen name from this picture). Then there's that little charmer Austin, who's sort of been adopted by Fiona. But whose little boy is he really? There are very interesting twists to this very well-acted and directed drama that transcends soap opera due to Lenore Coffee's excellent script and its sheer quality. Stanwyck is excellent, as are Fitzgerald and Coleman, and a large supporting cast including Donald Woods, Donald Crisp, Anne Revere, and Grant Mitchell. Young and Brent aren't slouches, either. Certain to stimulate debate is a scene between Stanwyck and Brent that could be taken as consensual (if cynical) sex or as rape! Irving Rapper, who is in full command of the picture, also directed Deception, The Corn is Green, Now, Voyager, and many others.

Verdict: Really the kind of movie they don't make anymore. ***1/2.

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