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In 1848, a young Frenchwoman, Madeline Minot, goes to New York City to see Thevenet, the grandfather of her fiance. Thevenet had been with Napoleon and may be sympathetic to the political ... See full summary »
Brandon and Jessie Bourne have been married to each other for many years. A few years ago, Brandon had an extra-martial affair with Isabel Lorrison. Now she has returned to New York intending to start over with the relationship once again. Meanwhile, Jessie is attracted to Mark Dwyer, just arrived from a secret mission in Italy. Written by
Nothing new here, but professionalism of actors and director raise film above familiar material
A fairly standard-issue formula melodrama comes alive thanks to capable acting and adept direction. Sheer professionalism keeps the unremarkable story afloat, with all concerned more than equal to their assignments.
`East Side, West Side' is told from the point of view of a lady of leisure (Barbara Stanwyck) whose husband (James Mason) is a habitual adulterer. Despite his deep love for her, he is unable to resist temptation, comparing it to an alcoholic's need for the bottle. All his efforts to clean up his act are for naught, however, when former mistress Ava Gardner returns to town determined to win him back, and willing to stop at nothing to do so. Meanwhile, Stanwyck incurs the affections of a highly decorated police officer (Van Heflin), who shows her the other side of the tracks where he grew up, and is surprised to learn that she did too. Their relationship blossoms, but when Gardner turns up dead and Mason and Stanwyck are suspected, it falls to Heflin to sort things out.
There's nothing here that hasn't been done before, but it is handled with such style and finesse that it's impossible to dislike, and the story is surprisingly involving. Heflin is provided with a strong character and ample opportunities to showcase his acting capabilities. The roles filled by Stanwyck and Mason are more burdensome because they serve to drive the plot, but both actors tackle them skillfully. Gardner is given only a few scenes to establish and develop her character, but she nonetheless makes a strong impression. Veteran director Mervyn LeRoy knows just how to handle such material, and he does so with poise and surefootedness. The proficiency of involved participants raises routine material above the ground and makes for engaging viewing, and this film is a case in point.
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