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Rosalind Russell faces "The Guilt of Janet Ames" in this 1947 film also
starring Melvin Douglas, Sid Caesar, Betsy Blair and Nina Foch. After
the war, many, many films concerning psychiatry, mental illness, the
mind, nerve disorders, etc. were released. Obviously readjustment and
mental trauma were problems faced by many returning soldiers, and loss
had to be coped with in many families. So it's no surprise that
psychology became a huge subject.
Rosalind Russell plays a war widow whose husband threw himself on a grenade and saved five of his platoon. Angry and bitter, she has the names of the men, and sets out to meet each one to see if any of them were worth her husband sacrificing his life. En route to see one of them, she is hit by a car and has an hysterical paralysis so that she is confined to a wheelchair. One of the names on her list is recognized as that of a reporter, Smitty (Douglas), and he goes to the hospital to identify her. Though he has lost his job, is an alcoholic and due to leave for Chicago soon, he does a mental exercise with Janet that is inspired by the story of Peter Ibbetson. Ibbetson was an imprisoned man in a DuMaurier novel who was able through his imagination to leave the prison and reunite in dreams with his true love. Janet has to imagine each man, what he's like and what problems he's facing in order to gain some understanding of him. One man has a child, another man is married and he and his wife dream of building a house, another does work in the desert, one is a bouncer and another is a stand-up comic.
Once she is through with this exercise, Janet is able to admit some demons she has been carrying with her since her husband's death. Then it's Smitty's turn to face some facts.
Thanks to the acting of Russell and Douglas, "The Guilt of Janet Ames" is truly elevated. Russell looks beautiful, and her acting is wonderful. At first she's hard and angry (the word neurotic is thrown around a lot), but gradually, her character softens. Douglas gets to do more than be the light, debonair leading man here, and as he proved later in his career, he is more than up to it.
The message is that you can't live in the past and put yourself through the torture of what you did or didn't do, and it's an effective one that probably has as much resonance now as it did in 1947. There's still a war on.
A surprising little gem of a movie. Articulate dialog, a realistic view of the impact of war, the best performance I have seen from Melvyn Douglas, good (and awfully tough) role filled by Roz Russell. Some of the fantasy went a bit too far and I'd love to know why one of the five surviving soldiers was not shown (his wife was). I always wondered about the buddies I lost and whether I've been a good representative for their sacrifice. This show was creative and touching, some hints of film noir and an occasional light moment. I've seen over 4,000 films, probably two-thirds of which I cannot remember even with prompting. This one stands out for being different and effective. Too few like this.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This was a metaphysical metaphor and probably if you aren't of
metaphysical phase, you will have trouble with it. The guilt Janet
expressed as being the cause of the loss of her husband is universal:
"I didn't allow him his dreams," "I kept him in a job he didn't like,"
"I didn't want children when he did," and all the rest. These are
feelings -- true or not -- that every loving widow thinks hoping to
bring him back, (how to bring him back is in "A Course In Miracles" --
a metaphysical treasure).
After Janet finds her truth, she turns to do the same for her "healer companion" Smitty, and the movie ends with that happening with the same gentle thoughts that she was healed by. It's a tear-jerker with redemption because it heals the troubled mind of guilt by looking at situations in a way that exalts human love for humanity.
I got a problem: I think Rosalind Russell was/is a beautiful woman.
The fact that she could stand up to the likes of Cary Grant and upstage him practically in His Girl Friday does not deter me from the Opinion, that there was something just so attractive about her, especially in the years she was a leading lady, a time which spans several decades actually.
THIS film is an absolute GEM. I caught it early this AM, and I was completely interested in the well-being of Janet Ames. Dramatically, the story may not be the best, but the way the principals are played by Russell and leading man Melvyn Douglas, cause the viewer to get interested in what happens.
The only slightly-out-of-place item is the semi-comedic section with Sid Caesar- But actually, that part is used as a bridge, and Russel played it totally straight, which put the attention on Sid Caeser and what he was doing, and so, instead of the film going potentially wholly offtrack into a comedic area, it is contained and the viewer is brought back into the solemnity of the story.
This is a very wonderful film and shows a serious side to Russell that is actually refreshing.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I was in the middle of the movie when I thought that it is a really
good one. This idea almost spoiled the rest of it as I tried to analyze
the movie. But my opinion is quite subjective and I can see how many
people would not like it at all. It's a psychological drama about a
widow of a fallen soldier and an army comrade of the soldier. You might
like the movie if you like classic dramas. You might also like it if
you like theater dramas. In fact it was almost like watching a theater
on screen. I've counted 7-8 settings. IMDb lists four writers, so the
script must be a collaborative effort. The movie was made in 1947, soon
after the end of World War II and might be trying to explain something
to those who grieve for lost ones. I've found the movie quite
sentimental and can not even imagine what it must be like to watch this
movie if you are a close one or an army comrade of a fallen soldier.
But I think I was able to understand how the characters in the movie
feel. For some reason the movie did not become popular enough to enter
IMDb's top 250.
***SPOILER ALERT*** One scene is quite off topic. In the scene there is a comedian who presents himself as a psychologist who advises movies on psychological matters. Here the writer seemed trying to explain how he thinks movies should be made and presents a "new" genre of movies. *******************
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The synopsis for this film sounded very intriguing - so I was very
disappointed when it didn't deliver. I love movies that deal with
families or people trying to deal with the aftermath of war. I'm always
fascinated and appreciative of the sacrifices people made in WWII, so I
love movies that give glimpses into that reality.
This could have been a very touching story about a widow struggling to accept & deal with the loss of her husband. However, rather than deal with realities, it is more of a fantasy piece. The widow sets out to meet the 5 men that her husband died to save. Rather than actually meet these men in person as they are, she embarks on a psychological journey ( I wont give the details away). I think it would have been much more interesting to have met the real men. Also, we are never allowed to meet her dead husband through flashback. I think that would have been a much more interesting way to learn of him & their marriage.
Anyways, I found the whole thing rather boring, and emotionless. The story could have really stirred heartstrings had it been handled correctly. I think the true "guilt" in "The Guilt Of Janet Ames" is that the screenwriters and director really did no justice to what should have been a touching story.
Hello, I am HUGE fan of Nina Foch. I lucked out and some really nice reader/reviewer on this site sent me a tape of My Name Is Julia Ross, which has become one of my all time favorite movies. If anyone has this one, or knows where I can find one, I would be thrilled to buy a copy. I am also desperately seeking "Strange Affair", and "Shadows In The Night".Hmmmm, now I see I have to fill ten lines in order to submit this, please bear with me... sorry...I guess I could ask if any of you have other out of print amazing old film noirs. I am not trying to undermine any copyright laws, merely to share movies that are NOT for sale commercially. I'd gladly pay the cost of making a copy and/or trade some of mine (I have a lot) A little help? Thanks in advance, Steven
A common plot in 30s and 40s cinema is the jaded writer/actor/director
of comedies who is tired of writing/acting/directing light fluffy
stuff, and want to try his hand at real drama. (Think Sullivan's
Travels, or the Bandwagon). Of course, it always turns out that the
great serious drama is worthless, lousy, or unintentionally funny. In
these films, we usually see only a few moments of the drama (or just
hear the title), but can surmise the unrelenting awfulness of the play
Well, in case you were curious -- here is the movie/play all those failed serious artists were making. It is deadly serious -- all about the mental problems of those who went to war and the mental problems of the women who were left behind. It is told in the most up to date manner -- there are long extended scenes that take place in the united subconscious of heroine Rosalind Russell and hero Melvyn Douglas. There is much moody photography. There is a lot of embittered drinking (mostly by Melvyn). And the words "neurotic" and "Freud" come up a lot. There is even extended references to the play "Peter Ibbetson", which are vital to the plot.
The only things missing are believable, worthwhile characters, a sense of humanity by the authors, or anything resembling a life force -- er -- sense of humor. (There is a bit by Sid Cesar that is intended to be funny. If you like late-period Jerry Lewis or Danny Kaye, you might be amused.) I can tell, by the roles Roz was taking at this time (her next movie was Mourning Becomes Electra-- in which she is quite good) that she was trying to get away from the paint by numbers lightweight stuff she got stuck into after her turn in The Women. Nevertheless, this humorless horror does not show her to best advantage. Mevyn Douglas has an almost unplayable role. Nonetheless, he does as good a job with it as you might expect.
If you like classic movies -- you won't like this. It's not fun, and it is far too impressed with itself.
If you like more recent -- independent film -- you still won't like this. It dares to be different, but buys into every conventional post-war trope about a woman's place.
In other words, this one should be buried and forgotten. Unless, like me, you've got to see everything.
This movie started with such promise...then....yuck! It begins with a
wonderful premise. Rosalind Russell plays a woman who is seeking out
five men that lived due to her husband's sacrifice during WWII. He died
so these five men might live. However, what exactly she plans on doing
when she sees all of them is unknown, as she is hit by a vehicle while
crossing the street to see the first man! An alcoholic news reporter
(Melvyn Douglas) learns about this accident. However, his decision to
see the injured lady is because he was one of the five names on her
list--as he'd been saved by her husband. So far...a wonderful premise.
When Douglas enters the hospital, the film starts to go downhill. First, the doctor firmly declares that Russell is able to walk--even though she insists she can't. This is odd, as she seems to have just been brought in to the hospital after the accident--and yet the nasty doctor yells at her and tells her she is okay! This might have made sense if she'd been in the hospital a few days--plus despite being hit by a car, she seems to have no injuries!! But, it gets worse, as with Douglas' help and a few pills, Russell starts to have out of the body experiences where she magically meets the families of the five men who were saved--and sees how their lives impacted the lives about them. Seeing the extended impact of the man's sacrifice is a nice idea--but doing an out of the body traveling gimmick really was dumb. It came off as preachy...very, very preachy.
Now I am NOT insensitive to the sacrifices made by people in war. And, I do appreciate the other reviewer, as the film was very personally touching to them. But it just came off as too weird, too contrived and silly--when, using the same basic story idea, it could have been wonderful. Too bad...I think the film makers' intentions were good--but the script was just strange and, at times, a bit ridiculous.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
After the huge critical and box-office success of Sister Kenny, her well-deserved, Oscar-nominated return to screen drama, Rosalind Russell next chose this script about a woman traumatized by her husband's death during WWII and her need to find healing through the truth behind it. This is proof positive that strong production values and good casting cannot overcome a good story idea ineffectively presented. The use of fantasy sequences via drug-induced dream therapy had been used by Alfred Hitchcock with Salvador Dali in Spellbound - to brilliant effect - and would be used by director Rudolph Mate' to explore a killer's psyche in the later William Holden crime drama The Dark Past. Also in 1948, the best use of this cinematic device was done by director Anatole Litvak in The Snake Pit: here absolutely integral and vital to the story's development and resolution. In The Guilt of Janet Ames however, a more realistic, film-noir approach should have been utilized. This would have ditched the need for flashback elements out of place in this story - used superbly by director Curtis Bernhardt that same year of 1947 in the Joan Crawford psychodrama Possessed - and would have resulted in a tighter, convincing, and far more compelling and absorbing scenario then the contrived and uninvolving misfire presented here. When the credits list four writers and no producer...uh, there's a sign of pre-production trouble! Happily for Miss Russell, her next film, produced at RKO Radio, was Eugene O'Neill's Mourning Becomes Electra, for which she received huge acclaim and her third Academy Award nomination. And there would be greater triumphs ahead in both comedy and musical comedy for a truly stellar career. To quote the final line from Billy Wilder's Some Like It Hot: "Nobody's perfect!"
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