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This Thing Called Love (1940)
That after seeing this film newlyweds Ronald Reagan and Jane Wyman built their home like that of the house in this movie. They even got the plans from the studio. They lived in that home through their 8 year marriage. This was where they raised Michael and Maureen. A second daughter Christine died in 1947 at the age of 9 hours. Jane Wyman sold the house after their divorce became final in 1949. From exterior shots of the residence it looked to be very modern with lots of stonework and steel. Wyman insisted no wallpaper and the interior was stained pine wood with very modern touches which were the rage in the late 1930s and early 1940s; it must have been a stunning house. Know it had a pool and a glorious view of Los Angeles and the Pacific Ocean off in the distance.
Just for You (1952)
Janie and Bing and Ethel Barrymore too; what a treat!
We all knew Jane Wyman was wonderful with her melodramatic box of kleenex roles she did so well but what a flair for comedy... And her singing voice; what a surprise! As in many actors lives, art imitated life in this movie; Bing Crosby's wife Dixie Lee, was suffering from terminal cancer in 1952 and died before the end of the year. Bing shows a rare vulnerability we didn't see in his other films. And his talk to the soldiers in Alaska towards the film's end about being too late with his son; sounds like he was speaking to the 4 sons he and Dixie had. He wasn't a perfect father but he tried and did the best he could. Crosby seems preoccupied in this film; probably his wife's terminal illness and death had much to do with it. Crosby's widower character is in keeping with the angst he must have been feeling at this time. Natalie Wood and the actor who portrayed his son are wonderful; Ethel Barrymore-- what can I say about this great icon of stage and screen. Jane Wyman's character Carolina knows just how to keep Bing's character in line with love, adoration and resolve. Wyman fans will love this movie. 50 years later, the costumes, sets and glorious color seem very current; it's timeless!
Johnny Belinda (1948)
That Jane Wyman, then in private life Mrs. Ronald Reagan, was able to find the strength to film this masterpiece of her career so soon after the birth and death of her baby daughter in 1947 is a glimpse to us of her utter sheer determination and complete professionalism. Miss Wyman uses milestones of her own life in her acting; she becomes the character and thus we catch emeralds and wheats, the good and the bad, the happy and the sad. It makes for a performance the audience never forgets and the film remains fresh after having had seen it several times. The supporting cast is pure gold. I understand that Jack Warner buried the film for nearly a year after completion and only got on the band wagon after Wyman made him take out an apology in the trades which lead to the big Oscar buildup which snagged Jane Wyman her best actress oscar for 1948. Sadly her greatest professional triumph marked also the death of her marriage to husband Ronald Reagan.