In 1902 London, unhappily married Philip Marshall meets young Mary Gray, who is unemployed and depressed. Their deepening friendship, though physically innocent, is discovered by Philip's ... See full summary »
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The plight of plain women in a beauty-centered culture has powerful potential for example, The Enchanted Cottage (1945), The Heiress (1949). I just wish the screenplay here were a stronger one. As another reviewer points out, the script is basically a one-note narrative. On the downswing, it's just one rejection after another for the plain Phyllis (Raines), while on the upswing, with a new face, it's just the opposite. Too bad the point is belabored without much subtlety, as though otherwise the audience won't get the point. Speaking of subtlety, the first 10-minutes does manage a nice bit of subtlety as Paul (Bennett) eases Phyllis out of his employ so that her romantic hopes won't be dashed. Too bad the remainder becomes so tediously obvious. (One wise script pointputting poor Phyllis in the fashion industry where beauty is a commodity and the main topic. That way it's not average folks rejecting her.)
Now I like Ella Raines as well as the next fan. However, the role calls for a performer who specializes in soul (e.g. Ida Lupino, Olivia deHaviland, Sylvia Sydney). Raines does a good job of smiling through adversity, but projects little beyond what's in the script. Inner depth would have added a lot. Clearly, the casting calls for a beautiful woman, which Raines is, so that the transformation can be convincing. But, all in all, the actress is more persuasive as a vamp than a rejected plain-Jane. Then too, Bennett appears miscast. He's just too hunky for a recessive role. Maybe the producers figured the ending could only be justified by using a hunky guy to balance out the re-born Phyllis.
Anyway, the sensitive topic is an important one, and one that old Hollywood usually shied away from. I'm just sorry it didn't get more memorable treatment here, with a bigger budget, a better script, and more astute casting.
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