This was the first film of Margaret Sullavan, then aged 24. As the story requires her to age by eleven years, she does that very well in the film. She only had 26 more years to live, as she died aged 50 in 1960, having made no more than 21 films. Despite this restricted ouevre, her vivacity, charm, warmth, and wonderful smile have rendered her memorable to all lovers of the history of the cinema. She was what is called today 'authentic', a real person rather than just a screen goddess. In 1931 she married Henry Fonda, and was later married to William Wyler. But a series of family tragedies, including the suicide of one of her children, meant that she had a breakdown and an early death by 'accidental barbiturate poisoning'. She was the mother-in-law of Peter Duchin the pianist, who is still very much around, and it is difficult to find 'anyone who is anyone' in Manhattan who has not met him and been enchanted by his playing. Another son-in-law was Dennis Hopper, who together with Peter Fonda revolutionised American films with the famous EASY RIDER in 1969. In this film, directed by John M. Stahl, Sullavan plays a romantic young girl who falls in love with John Boles in 1918, they intend to get married, and have a night together, and then he is sent off to war in Europe with only a few hours' notice, so that the marriage is postponed indefinitely. Meanwhile, she had become pregnant and has a son. The social disgrace is too great for her Southern family, and she moves to New York, where she lives from then on with her free-wheeling and more broad-minded aunt, played by Billie Burke. Reginald Denny, the British actor, surprisingly appears in this film and plays Billie Burke's male friend whom she eventually marries. I never saw him do better with humour and comic banter than in his scenes with Burke, which are very effective. John Boles is very good as the leading man, who for so much of the film is absent. In the story, he forgets about Sullavan, and when she meets him after a victory parade through the streets of Manhattan, he does not recognise her. He has no knowledge of her having had a son, and she is so hurt by his not knowing her, that she goes away. We then see a title which says: 'Ten years later' and the story resumes. The ten year-old son is played excellently by Jimmy Butler, who is a natural on screen, and this was also his first film. But he was to have a tragic early death at the age of only 23, just before the end of World War Two, as a soldier in France. The story of the film gets sadder and sadder, and I do not wish to ruin any viewer's experience by commenting upon the events which follow. The film shows 'true love which lasts through the years', a theme largely forgotten today, when partners and spouses are thrown away like rag dolls. Just think, love did once exist, before sex completely took over and love got pushed aside as no longer being relevant.
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