Soames and Irene Forsyte have a marriage of convenience. Young Jolyon Forsyte is a black sheep who ran away with the maid after his wife's death. Teenager June Forsyte has found love with an artist, Phillip Bosinny. The interactions between the Forsytes and the people and society around them is the truss for this love story set in the rigid and strict times of the Victorian age. Written by
When Greer Garson flung her wardrobe open to change into a dress to accompany Soames to the art gallery, Errol Flynn jumped out of the wardrobe which caused her to scream and faint on set. See more »
In an era of corset-wearing ladies there is a scene where Irene confronts Soames in his office about going on vacation. Garson is dressed in a Victorian nightgown and robe but in various scenes of her seated her bra straps are visible. See more »
I'm not surprised that many viewers find this film frustrating, particularly those unfamiliar with the novels or the later TV adaptations - coming to this film with such knowledge definitely helps one be more charitable towards it.
THAT FORSYTE WOMAN is one of MGM's "prestige" literary productions, tackling the first novel of one of Britain's most beloved series of novels by one of its most beloved authors, John Galsworthy. It's another well-executed, professional MGM effort. Yet it's another strange choice for MGM (as was THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY earlier in the decade), since in this case the story's main plot is an adulterous affair,casting its two leading players (Flynn and Garson) very much 'against type' - one can't blame Flynn for being willing, but I'd like to know just exactly which MGM executive thought to cast Greer Garson as the adulteress! The lady was simply too likable!
These are complex characters, and it actually took Galsworthy 6 novels to reveal them fully to the reader. Neither Soames nor Irene (the Garson role) are particularly likable in the first novel - both seem selfish and willful, but the reader ultimately comes to understand both of them better (although Galsworthy never really does give a satisfactory reason for Irene's loathing of Soames).
MGM originally produced the film under the title THE FORSYTE SAGA (I have a copy of the movie tie-in edition of the novel published by Scribners in 1949)) but, since the film was merely a slice of the Saga anyway, they changed the title to the more catchy THAT FORSYTE WOMAN emphasizing Irene's 'fast' nature. It remained THE FORSYTE SAGA in the UK.
One has to admire MGM's ambitious attempt, but let's face it, they'd really bitten off more than they could chew: THE FORSYTE SAGA was too big, too rich, and too multi-layered for one film. Rather, it was a work destined for success in another medium which was still in its infancy - television, in a format to which its breadth, length and varied cast of characters would be perfectly suited - the "mini-series", for which it would provide the pioneer effort with spectacular success in the late 1960s.
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