Friday, 29 April 2011

Review - Since You Went Away (1944 - Dir. John Cromwell)

Not your average American World War II film, this one. It centres on a family where the husband/father has gone away to fight in the war. He is only briefly seen at the start of the film and from then onwards you see how his family copes with the situation. 

The mother (Claudette Colbert) and her two daughters (Jennifer Jones and the surprisingly not irritating in this film, Shirley Temple) grow throughout the film as they cope with losses and the MIA status of the husband. There are quite a few 'Gee Whizz' moments and some cheesy sentimentality, but give it a break, it was made in 1944. Overall, it gets across the emotions of characters dealing with a very stressful situation.

The supporting cast are a lot of fun. Joseph Cotton plays a real ladies man who catches the eye of pretty much every lady in the film. The miserable Colonel (Monty Woolly) who rents a room in their house is also entertaining, especially his encounters with the family dog. Robert Walker (Strangers on a Train) plays Bill, the Colonel's Grandson, who is soon going off to war and becomes involved with the elder daughter is eminently watchable. An amusing 'fun for all the family' game that you can play is 'Who's a goner?' (Not to be confused with that other family favourite, 'Who's Dead?'. That game is mainly for viewers of Dad's Army and Carry On films.) When a new character appears predict whether they will survive or die. Great fun.

The film is long at 163 minutes but it does need that running time to explore their predicament and the story keeps moving throughout. I would have loved to see an English film based on a similar premise. You can't help feeling that it would have been more realistic and bleak. Never mind. I still enjoyed Since You Went Away and would recommend it to anyone who can put up with a smattering of cheesiness.

If you like this you could try:
A Place in the Sun, Gaslight, A Matter of Life and Death, This Happy Breed.

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