Told in flashback from a preface in which the main character visits Paramount to sell his story! Romanian-French gigolo Georges Iscovescu wishes to enter the USA. Stopped in Mexico by the quota system, he decides to marry an American, then desert her and join his old partner Anita, who's done likewise. But after sweeping teacher Emmy Brown off her feet, he finds her so sweet that love and jealousy endanger his plans. Written by
Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
No. No, Shaughnessy was a jockey from Caliente. Five foot three. Once over the border, I went to a judge. I said, a woman wants a man, not a radiator cap! Divorce granted, fifty dollars.
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As was the pattern of her career at this point Olivia DeHavilland was getting her best roles away from her home studio of Warner Brothers. No matter what she accomplished away from Warner be it an Oscar nomination for Gone With The Wind and for this film, Jack Warner resolutely refused to see her any heavy dramatic parts. His view of DeHavilland as the leading lady waiting patiently for her man to accomplish his mission remained transfixed throughout her tenure at Warner Brothers.
I'm sure that given what she accomplished in Gone With The Wind, Warner got quite a sum from Paramount for her services for Hold Back The Dawn. In it Olivia plays a schoolteacher on holiday in Mexico with some boys from her class. But depending on your point of view she's unlucky enough or lucky enough to meet Charles Boyer who is a Romanian refugee wanting really bad to get to this country.
Boyer is a part time tango dancer and full time gigolo and his partner Paulette Goddard has already gotten US citizenship by marrying a jockey from Agua Caliente racetrack and later divorcing him. She wants to resume her association with Boyer professionally and personally and Goddard urges him to romance some American tourist and do what he does best and get married.
Which is when Olivia falls into Boyer's life. She's young and naive and full of illusions and he really starts to hate himself, romancing some worldly dowager for money is one thing, but Olivia's trust gets to him. He actually commits a sacrifice of sort in this relationship.
Although DeHavilland got the Oscar nomination for me Boyer makes the film. The change that comes in his character come subtly and gradually and the tools to do it and the guidance come from script writers Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett and director Mitchell Leisen. Boyer gives a very subtle performance that should have received more recognition.
Not to say Olivia didn't deserve her recognition coming in the form of that Oscar nomination for Best Actress. In fact she was the betting favorite to win, but her sister Joan Fontaine beat her out with her performance in Suspicion. As is part of movie legend these two sisters were quite competitive and this didn't help the relationship.
In fact Hold Back The Dawn got six Oscar nominations including Best Picture, but came up short for Paramount. Still it's an impressive piece of work even seventy years after it was first released.
Also note the performances of Walter Abel as the immigration official and Rosemary DeCamp another refugee who finds her own method of entrée into the good old USA.
I hope it comes out on DVD at some point.
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