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In This Our Life (1942)

Approved | | Drama | 16 May 1942 (USA)
The day before her wedding, a pampered young woman absconds with her sister's husband; in retaliation, her sister begins seeing the woman's former fiancé.

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(screenplay), (novel)
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Stars: Bette Davis, Janis Paige, Jim Davis
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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Peter Kingsmill
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Minerva Clay
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Charlotte Fitzroy
Ernest Anderson ...
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Jim Purdy
Edward Fielding ...
Dr. Buchanan
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Police Inspector Millett
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Forest Ranger
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Storyline

A young woman, Stanley Timberlake, dumps her fiance, Craig Fleming, and runs off with her sister Roy's husband, Peter Kingsmill. They marry, settle in Baltimore, and Stanley ultimately drives Peter to drink and suicide. Stanley returns home to Richmond only to learn that her sister Roy and old flame Craig have fallen in love and plan to marry. The jealous and selfish Stanley attempts to win back Craig's affections, but her true character is revealed when, rather than take the rap herself, she attempts to pin a hit and run accident on the young black clerk, Parry Clay, who works in Craig's law office. Written by Bonnie Barber <bonbar@mit.edu>

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Taglines:

A sensational novel throbs to life! The cast is one of Warner Bros. best - the picture is one of Warner Bros. biggest! See more »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

16 May 1942 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Nascida para o Mal  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Stanley (Bette Davis) drives a 1941 Buick Roadmaster convertible; Police Inspector Millett (John Hamilton) drives a 1941 Buick four-door sedan; Policeman Fallon (Eddy Chandler), drives the police pursuit car, a 1939 Buick. See more »

Quotes

Asa Timberlake: In my day, we didn't talk much about happiness. If it came we were grateful for it. But we were brought up in the belief that there were other things more important; old-fogy fantastic notions such as duty and personal responsibility.
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Soundtracks

You're a Lucky Guy
(uncredited)
Music by Saul Chaplin
Played on the phonograph when Roy walks in on Stanley
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User Reviews

 
George Brent pulls the stops out.
22 May 2007 | by (Minffordd, North Wales) – See all my reviews

The film 'In This Our Life' is adapted from the novel of the same name by Ellen Glasgow (1873-1945), whose novels had healthy sales figures during her lifetime, yet who is now almost totally forgotten. Her own life was extremely unhappy, largely due to unpleasant memories of her abusive father. (In her will, Glasgow stipulated that she was not to be buried in the same cemetery as her father.) If she is remembered at all nowadays, she is classified as both a 'Southern' author and a feminist. A life-long Virginian, Glasgow typically set her stories in that state.

This is the second film directed by John Huston, following his impressive debut with 'The Maltese Falcon'. Considering how far removed the subject matter is from Huston's usual territory, he does an impressive job here. More about Huston a bit later.

Here we have Bette Davis and Olivia de Havilland as sisters, and there are no prizes for guessing which is the bad sister and which is the good 'un. The sisters are named Stanley and Roy, but there's no sexual subtext for those male names. The bad sister, having dumped her boring fiancé (George Brent), sets her cap for the good sister's handsome husband (Dennis Morgan).

In her later years, Bette Davis occasionally gave informal talks at colleges in California. My future sister-in-law was present at one of these. During the Q&A, an eager fan breathlessly pointed out that Bette Davis had co-starred with Bogart, Cagney, Spencer Tracy, Ronald Reagan, Errol Flynn and other great male stars ... so, who was her favourite? Without hesitation, Davis replied 'George Brent', leaving most of the audience to murmur 'Who?'. It's not hard to guess the reason for Bette's preference. Brent was a bland leading man who concentrated on making his leading ladies look good, never generating a screen presence with the wattage of Bogart or Cagney. Davis preferred working with Brent because -- unlike Bogart or Cagney -- she didn't have to compete with him.

Here, as Davis's jilted fiancé, Brent gives possibly the best performance of his career in a maudlin scene, getting drunk on a park bench. When I saw this scene, I burst out laughing: Brent overplays it ridiculously ... but this is perhaps the only time in his career when he didn't underplay.

A superlative performance is given here by a young African-American actor named Ernest Anderson -- no relation to the much older Eddie 'Rochester' Anderson -- as a black man unfairly arrested for a crime committed by Davis. (She's perfectly willing to let him take the rap, of course.) Anderson conveys intelligence and dignity, in an era when most roles for black actors consisted of 'Yassuh!' stereotypes. It's a shame that Anderson's career never prospered; few decent roles were given to black actors in his day. In this film, I was impressed with a scene in an all-negro cellblock, conveying that segregation persists even in prison. Also seen here, all too briefly, is a young black man named Ernest Morrison ... who, as a boy, had appeared in Hal Roach's silent comedy shorts as "Sunshine Sammy".

Now, about the director. John Huston's father Walter Huston was one of the few character actors who had attained first-rank stardom. To bring good luck to his son's first two films ('The Maltese Falcon' and 'In This Our Life'), Walter Huston played small unbilled roles in both. Here, he plays the bartender in a roadhouse where Davis tarries. The same scene introduces a character played by Lee Patrick. This actress was a Warners contract player at the time, but she's now remembered solely for playing Bogart's secretary in 'The Maltese Falcon' (and hilariously parodying that same character decades later, in 'The Black Bird'.) Because Walter Huston and Lee Patrick show up in the same scene in this movie, an annoying (and untrue) rumour has arisen, claiming that all the major cast members of 'The Maltese Falcon' make unbilled appearances in 'In This Our Life'. Bogart, Astor, Lorre, Greenstreet, Elisha Cook, Uncle Tom Cobley and the suicidal Munchkin from 'The Wizard of Oz' are all ostensibly hiding in this movie someplace. A nice story, but it's just not true. During the roadhouse sequence, bartender Huston keeps trying to have a conversation with some dimly-seen customers in the background while Davis is talking in the foreground ... but they're all just unidentified extras. They're definitely NOT the 'Falcon' cast. Adding to the confusion is the presence in this film of John Hamilton as a cop, after playing a D.A. in 'Falcon'.

There are excellent performances all round here; John Huston's prowess as an actors' director is under-rated. Even Hattie McDaniel has better material than usual. Max Steiner's scoring falls below his usual high standard, but even the worst Steiner score is better than almost anybody else's best. My rating: 7 out of 10. Rest in peace, Ellen Glasgow.


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