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During World War I, small-town girl Josephine Norris has an illegitimate son by an itinerant pilot. After a scheme to adopt him ends up giving him to another family, she devotes her life to loving him from afar. Written by
Mark Foltz <email@example.com>
The popular 1946 Livingston-Evans song hit "To Each His Own", though inspired by the film's title, was not included in the soundtrack. The top-selling version by Eddy Howard entered the national record charts three months after the movie's premiere and was followed by other best-sellers from The Ink Spots, Freddy Martin, Tony Martin, and The Modernaires. See more »
Although I don't think To Each His Own is as good as Olivia DeHavilland's other Oscar winner The Heiress or as good as the film she lost for in between these two, The Snake Pit, To Each His Own was the film that Olivia finally came into her own as an actress. She also showed Jack Warner a thing or two about type casting.
The story of To Each His Own is very much like something that Olivia's friend from Warner Brothers, Bette Davis, might have done. Bette won and was nominated multiple times for films like these and it's the stuff that Olivia badly wanted to do and was thwarted by Jack Warner who could only see her as the clinging leading lady to some dashing hero like Errol Flynn.
This film is all Olivia and she's the right age to do it. She was 30 at the time she made To Each His Own and the part called for her to age from her Twneties to her Forties. When we first meet her she's a a rather unhappy middle aged spinster doing duty as an air raid warden in wartime London. She's an American expatriate who is a cosmetics queen though her factory has now been converted to war use. She meets up with dashing Roland Culver who's a titled earl doing the same work and her thoughts go back to her years as a kid during that first World War.
A romance with a dashing flier played by John Lund and she's left pregnant and no chance of married when he's killed in action. Illegitimate birth was a horrible situation back in the day, so Olivia gives up the child to friends Philip Terry and Mary Anderson. Still the maternal instincts can't be snuffed out and she intrudes in their lives as well as a friend of the family her own child refers to as an 'aunt'.
Of course the whole thing becomes impossible and Olivia eventually moves to London when her factory becomes British based. Still she never stops thinking about the child someone else is raising.
Playing Josephine Norris as a young girl was no stretch because that's what she was playing all those years at Warner Brothers. But the more difficult challenge and what got her the Oscar for Best Actress was the way Mitchell Leisen guided her through the many stages of life. That called for Olivia to draw from the wellsprings of talent and ability that she knew she had and couldn't convince Jack Warner of the same.
The film was aided at the box office by the popularity of the song To Each His Own. You will not hear a note of it in the film, but The Ink Spots and Tony Martin had best selling records that year, The Ink Spots version going to number one on that Hit Parade that Lucky Strike sponsored. In fact I'm sure the popularity of the song and the film aided each other.
To Each His Own also earned an Academy Award nomination for Charles Brackett for Best Original Story.
You watch this film and you wonder just what Jack Warner must have been thinking when Olivia DeHavilland's name was announced on Oscar night.
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