|Laughton, Wyman and Vance with little Freddy|
In the maternity ward widow Louise Mason (Jane Wyman) asks to see her newborn but the doctor has to tell her that the child has passed away. Seeking employment, Louise is told [somewhat tactlessly] that she might enjoy being a nanny, a situation she at first rejects. However she becomes a nanny to the little boy of a widower named Fred Begley (Charles Laughton); this is only the first of many positions she has in this episodic film. As the years go by, Louise passes up her own happiness, such as with suitor Gerald Kean (Richard Carlson), when she feels the children she looks after need her more. There is an eventual custody battle over a child virtually abandoned by its mother, and a very moving wind-up. Wyman is excellent, as usual, and she has a stellar supporting cast, including a wonderful Laughton, a solid Carlson, Vivian Vance as Laughton's secretary, Agnes Moorehead and Joan Blondell as subsequent employers, little Natalie Wood as a needy child, and Don Taylor as one of her grown-up charges. This same year Vance became as famous as Wyman and Laughton when she took on the role of Ethel Mertz on I Love Lucy; this movie proves there was more to her than Ethel [wonderful as she was]. A priceless bit in Blue Veil has a now-senior Louise being told that she's too old to look after children but she could always get a job as a maid -- such easy work!
Verdict: Tearjerker supreme. ***1/2.