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

Saturday, January 26, 2008


THE SISTERS (1938). Director: Anatole Litvak. NOTE: This review contains some important plot points.

Now this is pure soap opera. The movie follows three sisters – Bette Davis, Anita Louise, Jane Bryan -- and their romantic up and downs over the years, and even features (somewhat unnecessarily) the San Francisco earthquake. Louise marries an older man but falls for a much younger one. Bryan finds happiness with her sister's cast-off boyfriend, Dick Foran. Davis falls for failed writer Errol Flynn, who goes off to sea in desperation and leaves her in the lurch. Both Davis and Flynn felt the film should end with Davis rejecting Flynn when he shows up years later and marrying her devoted boss Ian Hunter, but the studio and audiences of the time preferred the “happier” ending of Davis being reunited with Flynn. The picture is well-acted (even Flynn is uplifted by Davis' obvious on and off-screen love for him) and well-produced, but it remains a minor soaper with an unrealistic and unsatisfying conclusion. Flynn's character is not developed that well, and the two other sisters are given short shrift. Another half hour added to the running time might have helped.
Verdict: For Davis fanatics primarily. **1/2.

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