George Brent plays a writer in love with an heiress played by Ruth Chatterton. She loves him too, but can’t stop mothering her philandering husband. Bette Davis plays Chatterton’s kid sister who’s also sweet on Brent.
Brent gets a Raymond Chandleresque line early when he’s distracted by Chatterton across the room and a catty socialite asks, “Did you hear what I said?” To which he replies no, then deadpans, “I was looking into your eyes and the glamour of them deafened me.” The script overflows with snappy dialog like this, and Chatterton, Brent, and Davis handle it with aplomb.
But I couldn’t swallow the age gap between Brent and Chatterton. The script implies Brent and Chatterton are the same age, but the casting doesn’t match. He’s twelve years her junior, and it shows.
The costumer doesn’t help, cladding Chatterton in an unflattering cocktail dress early that betrays her near-middle-age. To be fair, the film also sees Davis wearing several veils, a costume sin that hides her star-making eyes.
As the story unfolds, it’s not clear what Brent sees in Chatterton, what Chatterton sees in her husband, or what Brent doesn’t see in Davis. Everyone’s quite witty but the tepid melodrama offers no emotional stakes. When an abrupt car crash resolved one plot thread, I guffawed. Not the reaction the film wanted, but one it deserved.
- Warner Archive Collection, 2011↩