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Small town Kansas girl, Lily James, is the latest model working for the Thomas Callaway Agency in New York City. Despite her small town roots, Lily is street-wise because of her tough growing up experiences, and as such she is a good judge of character. She believes she can escape her troubles through professional success. Because of her hard work ethic, she quickly does rise to the top of her profession. She attracts the attention of Steve Harleigh, a wealthy copper mine owner. Despite they both knowing that nothing can come between them, they fall in love. The issues are that he lives and works in Montana, and that he is already married. Steve feels guilty about his marital infidelity as his wife, Nora, is physically disabled from a car accident in which he was the cause. Lily has to decide if her own happiness is worth destroying the life of a woman - an invalid - she's never met. Written by
I'm not sure at what point Lana Turner went from being "The Sweater Girl" to super-sonic Drama Queen, but it certainly could have been around the time George Cukor's "A Life of Her Own" was released in 1950. Lily James (Turner) is a young woman from a small town who comes to New York based on a letter she received from a modeling agency owned by Tom Caraway (Ewell). Upon their first meeting, Caraway hires her, and she quickly gets schooled in the highs and lows of modeling, thanks to a fading fashionista with whom she becomes friends. Unfortunately, the friendship is short-lived when Lily's friend hurls herself out of her apartment window in a drunken fit of loneliness. Lily becomes a top model herself, and along the way becomes acquainted with a businessman from out of town, Steve Harleigh (Milland) that she meets through a mutual friend. Although Harleigh is married, the two cannot deny their connection and end up having a very intense affair. Unfortunately, Harleigh is caught in a rough position since his doting wife back in Montana is handicapped and in a wheelchair. The two must decide whether their love is worth pursuing until the bitter end, or if they should deny their feelings and let each other go.
In "A Life of Her Own", George Cukor, one of film history's most prolific and successful directors (The Philadelphia Story, Gaslight, My Fair Lady just to name three) provides great melodrama without losing the integrity of the story. Unlike a lot of films from this genre, most of which I'd admit to really liking, I didn't find myself rolling my eyes and grinning during some of the most dramatic scenes; rather, I found myself completely drawn in to the plot, due partly to the character development and their portrayers. I really enjoy both Turner and Milland, and have seen where they can both just go out of control with the drama, but I didn't feel that way during this film one bit. To be sure, there are times that you have to suspend your disbelief. Turner was 30 when she made this film, and while she was incredibly beautiful, she was not a "fresh faced" kid who is going to take the modeling world by storm from the second she sets foot in New York. The reasons behind the attraction between Milland and Turner are a bit nebulous as well, but I felt they pulled off their chemistry convincingly.
Personally, I love the lush Technicolor melodramas of the 1950's, and short of the great Douglas Sirk, this is almost as good as it gets. 7/10 --Shelly
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