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

Thursday, January 30, 2014


ONLY YESTERDAY (1933). Director: John M. Stahl.

"This sort of thing is no longer a tragedy. It isn't even a melodrama. It's just ... something that happened."

A man receives a letter from a woman that he has completely forgotten, but who tells him that she has given him a son he has never known. No, it's not Letter from an Unknown Woman, but a variation that takes place in New York at the time of the stock market crash. Mary Lane (Margaret Sullavan) had shared a night of passion with Jim Emerson (John Boles) some years before, but when she goes to see him when he returns from WW1 he doesn't even remember her. She is determined to raise their son and stick it out until he does remember her, but instead Emerson marries another woman. Years go by, and Mary resists romantic overtures from others [reminding one of Back Street, which both Sullavan and Boles appeared in, albeit in different versions]. This was Sullavan's first movie and she delivers, and Boles is also fine as the object of her affections. Jimmy Butler scores as their young son, as does Billie Burke as Mary's sympathetic and up-to-date Aunt Julia, who sings "Tiptoe through the Tulips." Bramwell Fletcher and Reginald Denny are also in the cast. It all builds to an undeniably moving conclusion. Stahl also directed the Boles-Irene Dunne version of Back Street, as well as Leave Her to Heaven.

Verdict: Good acting helps put this over. ***.

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