An industrialist (Joseph Cotton) and a pianist (Joan Fontaine) meet on a trip and fall in love. Through a quirk of fate, they are reported dead in a crash though they weren't on the plane. ... See full summary »
An industrialist (Joseph Cotton) and a pianist (Joan Fontaine) meet on a trip and fall in love. Through a quirk of fate, they are reported dead in a crash though they weren't on the plane. This gives them the opportunity to live together free from their previous lives. Unfortunately, this artificial arrangement leads to greater and greater stress. Eventually the situation collapses when they come to pursue their original, individual interests without choosing a common path. Written by
Eerily similar in storyline and backdrop to William Wyler's 1936 masterpiece, Dodsworth. It's not so much the script or the direction that doom this film, it's the premise and its execution. Don't get me wrong; I like the film. However, it could have been much better. As other reviewers stated, the actors, their chemistry were excellent. It's the character development that's faulty.
Whereas in Dodsworth the triangle is played out logically, along the lines of solid character development so that the hero ends up in Naples with the other woman; in September Affair (1950), love takes a back seat to 1950's morality, or "family values" which state that if you sin, you must pay.
To represent this on the screen, the screenwriter uses the deus ex machina device of having the wife morph from shrew to martyr, not by showing us, as a film should do, but by telling us, in a letter no less, that she won't agree to a divorce. But when we actually see her, she doesn't seem all that bad a person. She's not like the woman in the letter and she's not the woman Cotten makes her out to be. With Ruth Chatterton (star of Dodsworth), the character development progressed faultlessly. In September Affair, the wife's character arc is unbelievable. Which is she? A shrew or a noble, long-suffering wife? If the latter, the film couldn't end with Joseph Cotten walking away from that sort of woman. He would have lost favor with the audience.
That means forcing credibility to depend on us buying the unbelievable character arc of the wife who somehow morphs from meanie to martyr.
He goes back to his wife and I'll bet the first thing she does is revert to her original persona (you can't escape that easily) her Ruth Chatterton ways, emasculating Cotten out of spite, and he'll end up with no way back to the woman he loves, who loves him because she's also foolishly played the martyr to the point of NO return.
The film is a cop out. No film should hinge on the changes in a minor character; it should be the leads whose actions set the course. In fact, the ending even goes against common sense:
1) the wife's new persona has accepted the split, so has the son. That he's alive is enough for her.
2) As for Joan, he loves her and Joan loves him. They've taken it to another level like John Huston and Mary Astor in Dodsworth, a level the wife can't understand. They are clearly superior in their maturity, their lifestyles, their tastes.
Why not let them fade into the Florence sunset together, she with her piano, him with his engineering projects?
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?