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

Thursday, June 6, 2013


Millie (Hopkins) and Kit (Davis) have a disagreement

OLD ACQUAINTANCE (1943). Director: Vincent Sherman.

"There's a certain ecstasy in wanting things you know you can't get." -- Kit

"It's late -- and I'm very tired of youth and love and self-sacrifice." -- Kit

"I'm sure if she was a man she wouldn't have shaved!" -- Millie

Katherine "Kit" Marlowe (Bette Davis), who has a written a well-received if slack-selling literary novel, comes to visit her very dear old friend Millie Drake (Miriam Hopkins), who not only tells her that she and her husband Preston (John  Loder) are expecting a baby, but that she, too, has written a novel, a romantic potboiler that she is sure will become a bestseller. She's right, and several years and many books later. the Drakes are visiting New York even as Kit is awaiting the opening night of her first play. Millie does little to deal with the fact that her husband is in her shadow, and she doesn't even notice that he's fallen in love with Kit -- and vice versa. But Kit decides that sometimes a sacrifice has to be made in the name of friendship, but will Millie ever appreciate what she has done? Old Acquaintance is well-acted, entertaining, and often very funny in its tale of the self-absorbed if likable Millie and her more sensitive and understanding best friend, and it has some fine dialogue. John Loder could often be dismissed as a cinematic lightweight, but he's perfectly cast in this and has some very decent moments. Gig Young makes an impression in one of his earliest roles as one of Kit's beaus, and Delores Moran is quite pretty and competent as Millie's grown up daughter, Deirdre. Anne Revere and Esther Dale are notable in interesting supporting parts as, respectively, a reporter who speaks too freely, and a maid who knows her own mind and isn't afraid to speak it. A very amusing scene has the two friends having a confrontation, with Kit finally giving in and shaking the life out of her irritating buddy. Old Acquaintance is by no means perfect -- it's probably more soap opera than [comedy-]drama -- but for most of its length, it works. The two lead actresses are both excellent, although the ever-affected Davis sometimes comes off like a drag queen doing a Davis impersonation! This was remade years later as Rich and Famous, which, if I recall correctly, was pretty terrible.

Verdict: This is no Old Maid -- which also starred Davis and Hopkins-- but it is fun and fast-paced. ***

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