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No actress was ever more beautiful than Barbara Stanwyck in this film. Corny as can be, but I could watch it a thousand times. I wanted to show it in my American History class but don't know where to rent it. I was born in 1948 and this pix made me fall in love with a woman born in 1905 or 1907, and who has been dead 10 years. This is a real American treasure.
The First World War saw the debut not only of new military technology,
but also new weapons of psychological warfare. It was the first war
fought with means of mass persuasion as well as mass production. To get
the American public in the proper fighting spirit for their inevitable
entry into the war, the authorities deliberately and uncritically
passed along British propaganda which wildly exaggerated or just plain
fabricated German atrocities. (Sadly for all concerned, real German
acts of brutality, especially in the conquered Low Countries, gave this
propaganda an air of plausibility.)
It's unfortunate that, given its time and circumstances, this movie can only hint at the pervasive ugliness of these manufactured images of the gleefully nun-raping, baby-bayoneting "Bestial Hun", and the vicious persecution it inspired against German immigrants.
Though the glimpses it does show are often harrowing, as the story tracks the collapse of the blissful marriage between a professor (Otto Kruger) from Germany who teaches at a small college, and his American wife (Barbara Stanwyck), under the pressure of the growing hatred and intolerance they face from almost everyone around them. Even if the plot's predictable and the final twist is pretty contrived, and with few exceptions the acting and direction are about what you'd expect from a time when talking pictures were only four years old, I still have to give Warner Brothers some credit simply for having made a film -- even a low-budget "weeper" like this -- showing at least in some small way how war can corrode our humanity on the home front, too.
The other major thing this picture has going for it from my point of view is, of course, Barbara Stanwyck: In the moments when she subtly transcends what could otherwise have been just another mawkish, pedestrian melodrama, you can clearly see a great actress who's just beginning to hit her stride. She even manages to make the somewhat over-the-top final moments watchable, if not quite believable.
This poignant and graceful doomed-love weeper deals with a facet of
American history rarely explored. In a beautifully restrained
performance, Barbara Stanwyck plays a Daughter of the American
Revolution who marries gentle German immigrant Otto Kruger. Upon the
outbreak of the First World War, they become victimized by anti-German
With tasteful understatement and an unusual attention to period detail, director Archie L. Mayo paints a vivid tableau of social intolerance that must have been quite daring in its time (the scars of the Great War were still fresh in '33). The writers, unfortunately, couldn't resist a nosedive into Mata Hari-like spy machinations, an eleventh hour plot contrivance that strikes an indelicate note. Even so, the film's quiet sensitivity stays with you long after.
With Ralph Bellamy (as the inevitable jilted boyfriend), Ruth Donnelly, Laura Hope Crews, and Clara Blandick.
For a retired history teacher, there sure is a lot to love about this
film. "Ever in My Heart" discusses one of the big secrets of twentieth
century American history. Few today realize that during WWI, there was
a serious backlash against Germans living in the United States. This is
odd, as through most of the war, Americans were roughly divided in half
between those who supported the Central Powers (including the Germans)
and the Allied Powers--and the average American just wanted us to stay
out of the conflict. Yet, in a case o political and newspaper jingoism,
the country went from very neutral (in 1916 Wilson's re-election
campaign motto was "he kept us out of the war") to declaring war only
three months later! And, at the same time, the pub went insane--and
often persecuted anyone of German heritage--roughly 25% of the
country!! Riots, beatings and even murders of German-speaking citizens
(some of which were actually Swiss or Dutch) were relatively common and
many German-Americans changed their names to avoid persecutions.
German-language newspapers and churches ceased as well.
This film was exceptionally well directed, sensitively written and acted and it's obvious Warner Brothers believed in this film. This actually isn't surprising, as in the early 1930s, Hollywood was very pro-German--as Americans were now having second-thoughts the advisability of their involvement in this war as well as the persecutions of Germans in the country. In other words, it was a pretty safe topic to question American attitudes during WWI by 1933. Simply stated, people in America were feeling sorry for the Germans---which, ironically, coincided with the rise of fascism (oops--talk about bad timing).
In "Ever in My Heart", Mary (Barbara Stanwyck) falls in love with Hugo (Otto Kruger) and they marry. He's a very nice man and they have every reason to be happy. Soon after marrying and having a child and the household is bilingual. Hugo also becomes an American citizen and he is proud of him family and new nation. And, at about the same time, WWI begins. As the war progresses, however, anti-German sentiments begin to affect Hugo as well as his family. First, their ' friends' begin to shun them. Then, he loses his job simply because he's a German-American. And then, it gets MUCH worse....and, towards the end, a bit hard to believe--but still quite exciting. I won't say more--I don't want to spoil it. Suffice to say it's a heck of a good film--and might just bring a tear or two to your eyes.
By the way, although Otto Kruger was a fine actor and was very good here, he actually was not a German (despite his excellent German language skills) but his heritage was Dutch.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
If you want to see a well crafted film you are in the right place, but
if you are in the mood to be cheered up you are absolutely in the wrong
The film concerns the trials and tribulations of a marriage between a German college professor and his New England socialite wife set in the years 1909-1918. Mary Archer (Barbara Stanwyck) was born to one of those New England families that for some reason thinks it is a great personal accomplishment to exit the birth canal of someone whose ancestors landed on Plymouth Rock. She lives in a town named after her family - Archerville - and it seems you can't walk through the main square without tripping over a monument to one of her past relatives. However, in what seems to be a triumph over environment Mary is a down-to-earth gal that likes people for what they are not where they come from. Mary has had a lifelong friendship and understanding of probable matrimony with Jeff (Ralph Bellamy). However, one day in 1909 he brings over a friend of his, German Hugo Wilbrandt (Otto Kruger). It's love at first sight for Mary and Hugo and the whirlwind courtship and marriage is shocking to Mary's blue blood relatives who receive Hugo somewhat coolly.
Hugo gets a job at a small college as a chemistry professor, Mary gives birth to their son, and they get a small dog - a dachshund - that actually becomes a rather important part of the plot. Hugo even becomes an American citizen and the couple's friends give Hugo a loving cup in commemoration of his naturalization - all is good. Into everyone's life comes some tribulations, but it is tragic when the good comes in one lump followed by all of the bad in another lump and it is doubly tragic when the bad has nothing to do with your own failings and everything to do with prejudice and a paranoid frenzy. That's exactly what happens to the Wilbrandts after the sinking of the Lusitania when all of their friends and associates and even relatives turn against them because of Hugo's German heritage. The Wilbrandt family saga is of course fiction. The part of this story that is not fiction is how Americans treated everything and everyone German from sauerkraut to those with German sounding surnames caused by British and French propaganda that was spread to cause Americans to believe that the Germans were savages so that the United States would enter WWI on the Allied side.
This film was made when America was at the height of its post-WWI anti-war feelings, and through most of the film I figured that the moral of the story was how this largely pointless war - WWI - had ruined so many lives, including those not directly involved in battle. However, towards the end there is a troubling scene between Jeff and Mary. Jeff admits that Mary has always been the only girl for him and states that the tragic end of her marriage to Hugo was caused by her not "sticking with her own kind". Mary seems to passively agree with Jeff's self serving statement. I would be somewhat horrified if that is what the actual moral was meant to be.
I still recommend this one. It's a heart breaker but it is well done at every turn. Even the cinematography with various montages giving you an idea of what is running through Mary's mind at times is very effective.
Barbara Stanwyck and Otto Kruger star in "Ever in My Heart," a 1933
film directed by Archie Mayo and also starring Ralph Bellamy.
Stanwyck plays Mary Archer, who, in 1909, falls in love with a young German, Hugo Wilbrandt (Otto Kruger), a friend of her cousin Jeff (Ralph Bellamy). They get married right away and settle down, and eventually have a baby boy. Hugo proudly becomes an American citizen.
Tragedy strikes the couple. When World War I occurs, the anti-German sentiment forces Hugo out of his teaching job and unable to find any other work. Mary's family wants them to move back in with them, but they want Hugo to change his name, which he won't do. He talks Mary into staying with them, saying he will join her in a week. He doesn't; he turns his back on America and returns to Germany to fight the war with the Germans.
Mary divorces Hugo and later goes overseas to work for the war effort. There, she runs into Hugo.
I knew the plot of this film, but there were elements of it that I did not know, so I found the film even more profoundly depressing than I expected. Barbara Stanwyck is wonderful, going from a fresh, young, happy woman to one who has to endure horrible sadness. Otto Kruger is very effective as well, but this is really Stanwyck's film. She'll break your heart.
Beautifully done film, but be prepared!
Barbara Stanwyck, the gal who could play any role, is American Mary
Archer, who is fawning over her cousin "Jeff" (Ralph Bellamy), until
she meets the dashing German Hugo Wilbrant (Otto Kruger). They get
married, and soon Germany is invading countries during WW I , which
causes turbulence and troubles for the married couple and their family.
Its a shortie, at 68 minutes. I had seen Stanwyck in Ten Cents a Dance in 1931, and in that one, she was still very much a young girl, in style and appearance; in this film "Ever in my Heart", even though only two years has gone by, she is much more grown up, in looks and in sophistication. Too bad Donald Meeks scenes were deleted - he would have spiced up the plot, which could use some humor, with more than its share of sadness. Interesting scene where the little old ladies in the sewing circle giggle and gasp over the horrible things the enemy does to captured prisoners. Technically, the acting and story here are just fine, and I guess the plot would soon be a current event again with the coming of WW II, much less still be an issue with world events going on today. Producer Hal Wallis and Archie Mayo (director) would make eleven movies together in the 1930s.
"Ever In My Heart" starts off slowly and uneventfully, a pretty
pedestrian story that seems both tendentious and predictable. Barbara
Stanwyck grows up in a waspy New England town. Her best friend/fiancé
(Bellamy) returns from Europe with a German friend (Kruger), who sweeps
Stanwyck off her feet. They marry. WWI arrives and the town turns
against the couple, who are accused of sympathizing with the Germans.
Stanwyck is terrific, and Otto Kruger is surprisingly warm and effective in his role. Later in his career he played spies and double agents in scores of WWII films. Ralph Bellamy, of course, played the good-natured slob who lost the girl.
The film is a hyperbolic screed against small-town prejudice, and the first half seems forced and simplistic, but picks up in the second half with the onset of the war. I thought the ending was quite powerful and hard to watch, a tribute to actors who know their craft. I appreciate Stanwyck more with each picture, mostly these early ones which are seldom shown.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Good little Warners soap, up to a point--and at that point it veers off into ridiculous plot coincidence and a rushed, depressing ending. Stanwyck contributes even more expressiveness than her considerable usual, and Kruger is an appealing leading man, until the wild contortions of the plot lead us to hate him, after the movie's spent three-quarters of its time cementing our allegiance to him. Warners, always wanting to be The Socially Conscious Studio, registers some truths about American prejudice that must have rung true and discomfiting a decade after the war. But then it hedges its bets by telling us, see, you never should have trusted this guy in the first place. Bellamy's stuck on the sidelines playing his usual Guy Who Doesn't Get the Girl, and there are tasty contributions from Elizabeth Patterson and the ever-indispensable Ruth Donnelley.
TCM showed this film and I saved it on my DVR for later viewing. Barbara Stanwyck, World War I, Germans and throw in mystery...sounded like a good old war themed movie. Turns out it was a movie that could have only been made around 1933. It was sandwiched just right between the two World Wars to deal with the issues in the film. It showed the life of a German who married an American in the years before the Great War. Later in the film the War became a major focus and impact upon his life and his family. My grandfather was of German heritage. He was born in the US but both his parents were from Germany. When he became of age he attempted to enlist in WW I but was turned down because he was 'German'. Didn't matter that his family had arrived before the Civil War and had fought for the Union. When my family finished viewing this film we all thought - this film is 'different'. The theme was not something I was expecting and not something I had every seen in other films. A young Barbara Stanwyck was a bonus. Worth watching if you enjoy older films.
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