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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>
Based on a novel by Margaret Kennedy, this film The Constant Nymph, starring Charles Boyer and Joan Fontaine, is a typical 1940's studio retelling of a classic style romance, the story of a fragile young girl's infatuation and adoration for an older, attractive musician.
While I think the production values and the sensuality of Letter From An Unknown Woman are superior to this film, this story also manages to captivate the viewer with its own brooding romanticism, solid performances, and beautiful music by Erich Korngold (Amazon sells CDs of this music in several movie soundtrack anthologies). Thankfully my copy of this film is pristine and that improves one's enjoyment of it.
Striking Alexis Smith as the unloved wife delivers a mighty performance, and almost steals the picture from Joan Fontaine and Charles Boyer. The supporting actors are also very good, including Charles Coburn, Peter Lorre, Brenda Marshall, Dame May Witty, and Jean Muir. I admit I was a bit frustrated by the character of the musician played by Charles Boyer. Men who marry women just because they are attracted to them and not because they love them irk me to no end. That was the situation here and it sets the viewer up for a very frustrating experience by the end of the picture.
The Constant Nympth is a decent romantic melodrama, with a very touching conclusion, but it's not outstanding or unforgettable, like Letter From An Unknown Woman surely is.
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