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The Sisters (1938)

Approved | | Drama | 14 October 1938 (USA)
Three daughters of a small town pharmacist undergo trials and tribulations in their problematic marriages between 1904 and 1908.

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(screen play), (from the novel by)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Louise Elliott
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Helen Elliott
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William Benson
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Tim Hazelton
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Rose Elliott
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Grace Elliott
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Sam Johnson
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Tom Knivel
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Ned Elliott
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Norman French
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Flora Gibbon
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Flora's Mother
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Stella Johnson
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Doc Moore
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Storyline

Sisters Louise Elliott, Helen Elliott and Grace Elliott - the daughters of pharmacist Ned Elliott and his wife Rose Elliott - are considered the most attractive and desirable young women in 1904 Silver Bow, Montana. The eldest Louise is the smart, practical one who is pre-engaged to stuffy Tom Knivel, middle daughter Helen is the one who wants excitement in her life regardless of love, and youngest Grace is the naive one. Louise's practicality is why it is somewhat of a surprise when she immediately falls in love with newspaper sportswriter and aspiring novelist Frank Medlin, marries him and runs off with him to his home base of San Francisco. Long pursuing him, Helen marries wealthy older Sam Johnson, who she doesn't love, but who can provide the exciting lifestyle she wants. And Grace, nursing his broken heart, marries Tom. As each sister endures the problems in her marriage - Louise's whose becomes the most obvious as Frank drowns whatever his problems in life in a bottle of booze,... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

14 October 1938 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

As Irmãs  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to contemporary news reports, Anita Louise hated wearing a corset for this film. Bette Davis didn't mind it quite so much. See more »

Goofs

At the ball on the night of Theodore Roosevelt's presidential election in 1901, the song "In My Merry Oldsmobile" is played. This song wasn't published until 1905. See more »

Quotes

Ned Elliott: Rose, maybe when a man has everything he wants, it's time to die. He waits too long; it's liable to turn sour on him.
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Connections

Referenced in Hollywood Out-takes and Rare Footage (1983) See more »

Soundtracks

After the Ball
(1892) (uncredited)
Music by Charles Harris
Played at the second election ball
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User Reviews

 
The Three Sisters, not by Chekhov
28 April 2005 | by (New York) – See all my reviews

"The Sisters" is not seen often these days. It is a curiosity piece because it's a minor Bette Davis film in which she plays an ordinary woman, a departure from some of her other more intense dramas we are more accustomed to seeing. As directed by Anatole Litvak, the film doesn't show anything new.

The story about the Eliott sisters from Montana, is mildly interesting. The Eliott household is a happy one. We see them at the beginning of the film as they are preparing for the election night ball in their small town in which Theodore Roosevelt is the winner in the presidential race. The three sisters make a quite an attraction among the young male population because their good looks.

What appears to be a nice family when we first meet them, suddenly fades into memory as the three sisters go in different directions, as life intervenes along the way. Louise, the older sister, proves to be a survivor, if only she has to experience a lot in her own life before real happiness can be achieved. Helen, the beautiful middle sister, marries an older man who offers her security. Grace, the younger one, is the only one to stay in town and marries Tom.

Louise experiences the worst fate of all the sisters when she finds herself abandoned in San Francisco by her husband Frank. He wants to get away from the scene of his failure in order to prove himself worthy of Louise's love. By going overseas as a merchant seaman, he wants to see if he can make any good out himself. Louise is in the middle of the 1906 earthquake and loses all she had.

At the end, all sisters are back home on another election night ball as they watch Willliam Taft being proclaimed as president of the nation. Their lives come together at the end, as all find peace.

The most exciting time in the film centers around the vivid scenes of the San Francisco earthquake. It's done in a realistic manner. Louise is helped by the next door neighbor, a woman of easy morals, who turned out to be a real friend.

The performances are good, but don't expect any sparks from the subdued Louise of Bette Davis. Ms. Davis gives a nuanced performance. The problem is, one expected an over the top star turn by the actress, and her Louise is the epitome of common sense and kindness. Errol Flynn, as Frank, the deserting husband, is seen in a different role as well. He is not as dashing and debonair as in his signature performances, but in spite of playing against type, his take on Frank gives another dimension of his acting range.

The beautiful Anita Louise makes an interesting contribution to the film. Ian Hunter as the kind Mr. Benson, also adds to the picture. The wonderful Lee Patrick plays Flora, the good neighbor, with conviction. Donald Crisp makes another great appearance as Frank's friend. Henry Travers and Beulah Bondi are seen as the Eliott sister's parents. Jane Bryan, as Grace has some good moments, but she is eclipsed by the more interesting older sisters.

This is a film to watch Bette Davis and Errol Flynn playing roles that are completely different from others we are used to see them in.


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