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Fourteen-year-old Tessa is hopelessly in love with handsome composer Lewis Dodd, a family friend. Lewis adores Tessa, but has never shown any romantic feelings toward her. When Tessa's father dies, Lewis contacts her late mother's wealthy family so they'll take care of Tessa and her sisters. Lewis becomes taken with Tessa's haughty cousin Florence and the two soon marry and head off for Florence's estate in England. Meanwhile, Florence sends Tessa and her sister Paula off to finishing school. The girls run away from school and Tessa moves in with Florence and Louis. Florence soon becomes consumed with jealousy over the bond between her husband and Tessa. Written by
Daniel Bubbeo <email@example.com>
For a long time, this film wasn't available because the rights to Margaret Kennedy and Basil Dean's play, Margaret Kennedy's novel and the original film rights owned by Gaumont British all became separated at different times in the late 1950s and eventually expired. The script and screen version used in 1943 was a combination of novel and play. Separate contracts were negotiated at that time with both authors. The Kennedy Estate had no objection to the film being shown, but it would have required expensive legal intervention to resolve the contractual situation. Somehow this must have been straightened out as the film is now available. The Library of Congress Film Archive restored it and it premiered at the Turner Classic Movie Festival in spring 2011 and aired later on the TCM cable movie channel. See more »
Joan Fontaine has became one of my very favorite actresses, just like her sister Olivia de Havilland, after seeing her in such Classics as "Rebecca", "Suspicion", "Jane Eyre" and that masterpiece, "Letter from an Unknown Woman". That mesmerizing constantly-frightened-insecure-frail look of hers has totally bewitched me; her classic features surrounded by an ethereal aura; her distinction and class, even in waif-like roles like the one she plays here and in "Letter…".
This film, just as "Letter from an Unknown Woman" is about Love, sometimes unrequited but always "intense". Young Tessa Sanger (Joan Fontaine) is deeply in love with much elder composer Lewis Dodd (Charles Boyer), who hasn't been able to succeed as musician. Tessa's father (another musician) played by Montagu Love, says that Lewis will have to love and suffer because of it, to attain an achievement as a composer.
The wondrous music by masterful German composer Erich Wolfgang Korngold is a marvel, pure poetry, which sets the perfect mood for this melancholic Love Story; it was really a privilege for Warner Brothers Pictures to have had the fortune of counting him as one of the members of its staff; Korngold's music is an awesome contribution to the Motion Pictures.
As I said before Joan Fontaine's perfect as the young Tessa. She was something like 26 years old when this movie was filmed and she portrays convincingly and believably the love-stricken teenager. Boyer is good as the intense composer and plays sensitively his scenes with Fontaine. Kudos too for Alexis Smith, who plays Florence, Tessa's elder cousin with great skill and sentiment.
Others in the magnificent cast are Charles Coburn as Tessa's lovable uncle, Brenda Marshall as Tessa's sister, Dame May Witty as a Dowager British Aristocrat, Peter Lorre as a friend of the Sanger family, Eduardo Ciannelli as Roberto, a faithful servant of the Sanger family, Jean Muir, etc.
Again, it's a shame that this wonderful, utterly moving film is out of circulation due to legal issues, if they didn't exist it should belong to TCM's Library (just like "Letty Lynton").
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