The Great Lie (1941)

Approved  |   |  Drama  |  12 April 1941 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 2,391 users  
Reviews: 41 user | 13 critic

After a newlywed's husband apparently dies in a plane crash, she discovers that her rival for his affections is now pregnant with his child.



(screen play) (as Lenore Coffee) , (from a novel by)
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Title: The Great Lie (1941)

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Complete credited cast:
George Brent ...
Lucile Watson ...
Jerome Cowan ...
Jock Thompson
Charles Trowbridge ...
Senator Greenfield
Thurston Hall ...
Worthington James
Russell Hicks ...
Colonel Harriston
Virginia Brissac ...
J. Farrell MacDonald ...
Dr. Ferguson (as J. Farrell Macdonald)
Addison Richards ...
Mr. Talbot
Sam McDaniel ...
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Olin Howland ...
Ed, Arizona Ranch Hand (scenes deleted)


Sandra and Pete elope but their marriage is invalid since she's not yet divorced. Sandra is, however, pregnant by Pete. Pete marries his former fiancée Maggie, then flies to South America where his plane crashes. Maggie pays Sandra to let her adopt Pete's baby. Pete returns "from the dead". Sandra and Maggie contend for Pete and the baby. Written by Ed Stephan <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Sometimes there's a terrible penalty for telling the truth.




Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

12 April 1941 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Far Horizon  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Bette Davis and 'Mary Astor (I)' thought the original script was not very good. They ended up doing massive rewrites on the script themselves. See more »


The cake that Violet and Jefferson take to the party changes size from the time it leaves the kitchen and its arrival in the dining area. It leaves the kitchen very tall and arrives considerably shorter. See more »


Violet: Vioet! Lunch! Ham, honey, cake, and coffee!
Violet: Jefferson!
[He enters]
Violet: Go out back and get that honey-glazed, peanut-fed, sweet Virginia ham.
Maggie Patterson Van Allen: You 'ain't gonna feed that man is you?
Violet: Jefferson, I'd feed the devil 'hiself if he done polished up the smile on Miss Maggie's face like that!
See more »


Featured in The 75th Annual Academy Awards (2003) See more »


The Sailor's Hornpipe
Played during the home movie scene
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User Reviews

the great film
2 August 2006 | by (Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico) – See all my reviews

An amazing unfolding story that arises out of a ridiculously unplausible plot that nevertheless is a classic film. Who needs a plot anyway when you have Mary Astor and Bette Davis fighting over the quietly cool George Brent? Throw in an unexpected pregnancy and a trip to the Arizona desert to keep the mother from having a miscarriage due to her bad habits, with boredom, sand storms, and endless cigarettes. The way it sounds is not at all like the impact it produces. There's one point in the film's second half when people might be thinking that it would be a good place to end the film, keeping the lie intact. But Edmund Goulding (Nightmare Alley) makes the absolute most of what follows, hitting the real ending with power and precision.

15 of 18 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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