Blake is in love with an aristocratic woman whose husband seriously injures him. Blake's friendship with Lord Nelson provides the basis for Blake's part in the growth of Lloyd's insurance ... See full summary »
Aristocratic Prudence Cathaway shocks her family by enlisting in the WAFs. After enlisting, a fellow WAF sets her up on a blind date with handsome, but moody Clive Briggs. Prudence learns Clive is a deserter, but still loves him and senses he'll eventually prove himself a patriot.Written by
Daniel Bubbeo <email@example.com>
Appearing in this film are no fewer than twenty performers who appeared in at least one of the Sherlock Holmes movies with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce, including Nigel Bruce who played Ramsbottom. See more »
[referring to Britain's involvement in the War]
It's too late to doubt or question. We're in it now, and we've got to go on!
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Radiant Fontaine and Handsome Power Make a Fine Romance
Anatole Litvak's engrossing romantic drama, "This Above All," takes place in the early years of World War II, before the United States had entered the war. Like "Mrs. Miniver," the film was intended to boost sympathy and support for England, which was already engaged in a desperate battle with Nazi Germany. Set on a back-lot England with Academy-Award winning sets, the movie has a coziness associated with black-and-white Hollywood studio films of the Golden Era. Prudence Cathaway, a strong-willed young woman from a privileged background, played by 25-year-old Joan Fontaine, joins the WAF, a women's paramilitary group, over family protests. On a blind date one inky black night, she meets Clive Briggs, a moody mysterious man with a dark secret. When she subsequently sees her date in the daylight, he is the impossibly good looking Tyrone Power, and romance inevitably ensues. Despite Brigg's criticism of her own aristocratic background, Fontaine tolerates Power's cynical nature and his ambivalence about fighting to retain the English class system that supports the rich and privileged.
Although breezily entertaining, little occurs during the first half as Fontaine and Power become increasingly involved. The couple flirt, date, and go off for a week's holiday at the seaside, where they encounter some of Briggs's buddies. However, as Briggs's secret unfolds, the film turns darker, and the pro-English propaganda surfaces. Fontaine waxes eloquently about all that England means and why they must fight to preserve the country; meanwhile, Briggs denigrates an economic system that rewards the moneyed aristocracy and oppresses the poor; why should the lower classes fight and die, while the wealthy sip tea and dress for dinner. Veteran actress Gladys Cooper appears to embody the haughty side of undeserved privilege, while Nigel Bruce and Thomas Mitchell ably portray Powers's working class buddies. While the dark-eyed Tyrone Power plays Clive Briggs quite well, Joan Fontaine captures her every scene and turns in a lovely, delicate performance as the rebellious Prudence; her glowing face wordlessly expresses the young woman's growing affection for the handsome Briggs. The Oscar-nominated photography by Arthur C. Miller captures Fontaine's delicate complexion and underplayed expressions and highlights Power at his tall, dark, and handsome best.
Despite a dated message in R. C. Sheriff's screenplay, adapted from a novel by Eric Knight, "This Above All" moves at a brisk pace, and even those averse to romances will be drawn in by Fontaine's radiant performance. If 20th Century Fox wanted to convince American audiences of the importance of supporting a loyal ally against the Nazis, they could have done no better than enlist the aid of Joan Fontaine to do so. She and Power make a romantic pair, and "This Above All" rises above propaganda to be an enduring romantic entertainment.
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