Dodsworth

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jdb1

Dodsworth

Post by jdb1 »

Who saw Dodsworth on Saturday night? What a wonderful movie.

I hadn't seen it in years, and I'm sure I got much more out of it now that I did 20 or so years ago. It is a sterling example of how to turn a good book into a great movie.

I'd be interested in your comments.
Last edited by jdb1 on July 2nd, 2007, 11:15 am, edited 1 time in total.
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MissGoddess
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Post by MissGoddess »

Dodsworth is a perfect film in every way to me. The entire cast seem to embody their characters perfectly. It's my favorite Walter Huston role and Ruth Chatterton is amazingly adept at making you despise and pity her at the same time. To top it off, Sinclair's novel is beautifully served by a splendid script.

Dodsworth is an adult movie in every respect and in the best sense of the word.
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moira finnie
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Post by moira finnie »

One of the pleasures of seeing Dodsworth after a long time is that Ruth Chatterton's character, who seemed to be pitilessly drawn when I first viewed the movie, now seems much more of a sympathetic, lost soul. Her reluctance to acknowledge and treasure the fact that life is finite and that acquiring that perspective allows one to enjoy the arc of life, relishing the here and now, and such seminal events as becoming a grandparent, is part of her pettiness, bordering on tragedy. I haven't read Lewis' book, but I wonder if Chatterton's character has been "coddled" by her husband and her social position for so long prior to their fatal trip to Europe that she has ceased to grow up around the time that her daughter was born? Her dwelling on her early life prior to marriage and motherhood and her determination to "make good" by becoming chic and continental seem to indicate that her values are infantile or, at best, adolescent. Does this quality come across in the book or am I reading something into the movie?

Also, is the background of Mary Astor's character more fully described in the book? Thanks in advance...

I've also felt that without being dogmatic about it, the thrust of the story dramatizes two sides of the American character, the thrill-seeking , thoughtless side embodied by the wife, and the somewhat plodding, but likable, resolute and hardworking side found in Mr. D. Again, maybe I'm reading too much into it...
jdb1

Post by jdb1 »

No, Moira, I think you've got one of the themes of the book. Lewis was as fascinated with the American vs. European sensibility as was Henry James, only Lewis' characters were hard-working middle Americans, rather than urban, inherited money Americans, as in most of James' work.

It's been years since I read Lewis' work, but seeing Dodsworth makes me want to revisit.

Lewis also dealt frequently in his work with the concept of the mid-life crisis (don't think it was called that at the time Lewis was writing). Fran Dodsworth was certainly going through one, and certainly Lewis' characters Babbitt and Cass Timberlane were going through something similar as well. Cass Timberlane is only in his 40s when he takes up with a younger woman, and what a scandal ensues. Times have indeed changed.

I agree with the assessment that this is one of Huston's finest roles. I think he is really attractive in this movie, moreso than in most of his others, and projects the no-nonsense, authoritative, but still "nice guy" image that makes him "All-American" among the decadent Europeans.

Ruth Chatterton really does get my sympathy, although she does try my patience as well. Her underlying desperation is evident, but she never overdoes it. I particularly liked her scene with Ouspenskaya -- the expression on Fran's face when Ouspenskaya says exactly what she does not want to hear, that she is older and her lover is younger -- I really "felt her pain."

Mary Astor looked beautiful, and was very sympathetic and so much more mature than her putative rival, Mrs. Dodsworth. That brief scene between them at Fran's birthday party - first a bit of cattiness, that Mrs. Cortney won, and then her quiet little warning to Fran about the Eurotrash she had taken up with: "My Dear . . . . . . don't." Beautifully played.

And didn't John Payne look cute? By the way, if you look on IMDb at the credits for Dodsworth, you will see that William Wyler appeared briefly as a violinist in the orchestra that Fran danced to.

My college student daughter was home with me on Saturday night, and watched the entire movie. She was very impressed with it. It will be interesting to see what insights she derives from it on repeated viewings.
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Post by benwhowell »

"Dodsworth" is a remarkable movie...on the same level as "Casablanca," "Citizen Kane" or "Gone With The Wind."
Walter Huston's performance was thrilling-with his body movements, hand gestures and facial expressions...and perfect inflections in his speech.
All the performances were wonderful...brutally (and painfully) honest, well developed and relevant. I pratically sat on the edge of my seat the entire movie.
I can't imagine why this movie is not more "popular" with the masses. The story is timeless and the production was slick and expensive-looking.
I've never read anything from Sinclair Lewis. Seeing "Dodsworth" (and "Elmer Gantry") makes me want to read what I've been missing.
Wikipedia suggests that the 1929! novel is "satirical." Is this true?
Did it lose the satire in the play/movie adaptations? I did not sense any satire in this examination of the sad (but necessary) "dissection" of a 20 year marriage...
I totally agree with MissGoddess that it "is an adult movie in every respect and in the best sense of the word."
feaito

Post by feaito »

"Dodsworth" is one of my very, very favorite movies and has been in my "Top Five" for many years, since I re-discovered it thanks to the DVD format. I wrote this capsule review, years ago, after watching it for the first time in years:

Splendid Movie

Actors build up their characters at very close perfection in this outstanding film, which deals with the conflicts of a middleaged married american couple in an european-second-honeymoon trip. One wonders how such and adult themed film (dealing with rampant adultery), could be made under the strictures of the Production Code, which reigned supreme from 1934.

The cast is uniformly flawless: Walter Huston, as industrialist Sam Dodsworth, gives one of the most sincere and unaffected performances ever achieved by an actor on the american screen (he deserved an Academy Award for this role); lovely and very pretty Mary Astor, in a most sympathetic role, as an american widow living in Naples, Italy, who falls in love with Huston, realizing they’re soulmates; Ruth Chatterton, as Fran Dodsworth, the self-centered, snobbish, selfish, spoiled, manipulative, unnerving & ultimately flirtatious wife of Huston, who cannot cope with growing old and ends looking down on her husband, hometown friends, way of life, etc....yearning for the “european”chic & sophisticated ways of its idle upper classes; Paul Lukas, as the suave, continental man who uses his charms on Chatterton; David Niven, as one of Chatterton’s suitors; a very young John Payne, as the Dodsworths’ son-in-law; and character actress Madame Maria Ouspenskaya, making her American debut, as the old baroness who spoils Chatterton’s wedding plans to her much younger son Kurt (played by Gregory Gaye), who not only is an impoverished nobleman, but cannot make decisions of his very own!

Samuel Goldwyn, the legendary and indomitable Hollywood producer, must be given the praise for making the decision to film such a delicate and sensitive movie, with an “A” class treatment, in spite of its lack of commercial punch for regular ‘30s moviegoers.

Really one of the best Hollywood movies of all time, and a truly timeless 1930s classic. Buying this dvd has been one of the smartest investments of my adult life.
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Re: Dodsworth

Post by movieman1957 »

This is a wonderful film.

Huston is great. He is almost terminally good natured. His wife is practically having an affair under his nose on the ship yet he is unfazed by it , almost. He is letting her have some fun but ultimately pointing out that he thinks she is a little silly. And doesn't Niven give her a most eloquent berating.

I love the relationship between Huston and Astor. Very adult and almost casual. Who says men and women can't be friends? It may evolve into a loving relationship but it is gentle, fun, and more of a mutual interest affair. In its way harmless but inevitable.

I have mixed feelings about Fran. On the one hand I get not wanting to be seen as old. On the other she seems to carry it to an unrealistic level. At times I find her smug. At times I find her hurt. All to frequently I find her too mean (or at least too dismissive) to Sam. At some point I would think he would be glad to be rid of her.

Everyone else has said more and more giftedly.
Chris

"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana."
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