A crusty old Sargent of the Queen's Australian army in World War I befriends a small orphaned boy and his tiny sister on the night he is to go back to Australia. The Sargent emotionally ...
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Olivia de Havilland,
Edward Everett Horton
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A crusty old Sargent of the Queen's Australian army in World War I befriends a small orphaned boy and his tiny sister on the night he is to go back to Australia. The Sargent emotionally decides to take them with him. He raises the boy and sends the girl to a prominent girls school. As adults, the boy becomes the national boxing champion of Australia and the girl is a polished and beautiful young woman. As it is mentioned at the beginning of the movie, the boy has become orphaned, and the girl was a ward of the family, without either child's knowledge. This is a lovely film. However, the growing love between the boy and girl are a bit unbelievable beyond sibling love, but yes, it goes there. Afraid, they separate. This is an innocently presented movie about the old guy, his care and affection for the children even through adulthood, his desire to make them happy and safe, and the "miracle" that the kids are not siblings after all, since they are in love. Written by
The film is an interesting oddity for this antipodean viewer . Charles Laughton sounds like a Cockney but utters , fairly convincingly , a whole lot of contemporary (1943) Australian slang expressions like "strike me pink" and "bonzer" . Laughton gives the open , hearty , unsophisticated digger a valiant try but he's simply miscast: it was really a role crying out for Chips Rafferty but Chips' career was then only at the diaper stage . Binnie Barnes , Richard Carlson , Stephen McNally and even Donna Reed are more convincing in this milieu but there's an essential miscalculation about the whole venture that makes it unintentionally funny to an Australian audience . The shades of "incest" surrounding Richard Carlson's/Donna Reed's mutual attraction are resolved in a typically hypocritical deus ex machina style that you can see coming from the first reel . The Wells Root screenplay covers the period from World War 1 to World War 2 as Laughton tries to bring up , in Australia , the French orphans he inherited during his wartime stint in France. Robert Z Leonard , better known for his stylish direction of Jeanette MacDonald/Nelson Eddy operettas like "Maytime" directs this jumble in an ill-at-ease manner .
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