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Devotion (1946)

Approved | | Biography, Drama | 20 April 1946 (USA)
Genius authors Emily and Charlotte Bronte fall in love with their curate as they seek to get their work published.

Director:

Curtis Bernhardt

Writers:

Keith Winter (screenplay), Theodore Reeves (original story)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Ida Lupino ... Emily Brontë
Paul Henreid ... Rev. Arthur Nicholls
Olivia de Havilland ... Charlotte Brontë (as Olivia DeHavilland)
Sydney Greenstreet ... William Makepeace Thackeray
Nancy Coleman ... Anne Brontë
Arthur Kennedy ... Branwell Brontë
May Whitty ... Lady Thornton (as Dame May Whitty)
Victor Francen ... Constantin Heger
Montagu Love ... Rev. Brontë
Ethel Griffies ... Aunt Elizabeth Branwell
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Storyline

In Victorian England, literary siblings Emily and Charlotte Bronte vie for the affection of the Reverend Arthur Nichols. Along with their sister Anne, Emily and Charlotte also try to help their tormented brother Branwell, a gifted artist whose life is being destroyed by alcohol. Written by Daniel Bubbeo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

It tells ALL about those Brontë sisters!...They didn't dare call it love- they tried to call it Devotion See more »

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

20 April 1946 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Afosiosis See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

At the time that this picture was released, actor James Mason and his then-wife were planning a film on the life of Branwell Bronte. The film was to be called "The Upturned Glass" (referring to Branwell's alcoholism), but was finally canceled because Warner Bros. was making "Devotion". When "The Upturned Glass" was finally released, it had nothing to do with the Brontes. Mason later judged "Devotion" to be "shockingly bad". See more »

Goofs

It is not explained how the very English curate Arthur Bell Nicholls speaks with an Austrian accent. See more »

Quotes

Charlotte Bronte: I know nothing. I understand nothing. And yet, I have dared to write 200,000 words about life!
[tosses manuscript on floor]
See more »

Crazy Credits

Dame May Whitty's name is spelled incorrectly in the opening credits. It is spelled as follows - "Dame Mae Whitty" - using the spelling the same way that Mae West spelled her name, (with an E, and not a Y). This is a terrible blunder for such a highly respected actress. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Radio Days (1987) See more »

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User Reviews

 
The First Family of Victorian Literature
11 May 2006 | by theowinthropSee all my reviews

If you want a generalized account of the Bronte Family, DEVOTION is not bad - but it is not really good history. Basically in the 1810s to 1830s Reverend Patrick Brunte (which he changed to Bronte) was in charge of the parsonage of Haworth in Yorkshire. He and his wife had six children: five girls and a son. Most people forget there were two older sisters than Charlotte, Emily, and Anne (and their brother Bramwell) but the two older daughters died prematurely of lung problems (which would bedevil all the Brontes).

In that isolated parsonage, the Bronte children entertained themselves by making up stories about a fabulous place called "Great Glass Town" that was ruled by England's superhero of the day, the Duke of Wellington. As they grew older, they would write down their stories about this wonderful place - and soon they were also writing down poetry. All that is but Bramwell. He was very bright and promising, and it was hoped he would develop his considerable talents as a draftsman and artist. He was even sent to a boarding school. But Bramwell developed a love for drinking, and the early promise of his brilliance eventually dissipated. He would also be the first of the better remembered children to die.

Before Bramwell died he would live to see the success of his three sisters. Charlotte, Emily, and Anne joined together to publish a volume of poetry called POEMS BY CURRER, ELLIS, & ACTON BELL. The reason for the pseudonyms was that in 1839 it was very unusual for woman to write fiction or poetry. So the girls figured it would not hurt to pretend they were men. The poetry worked well, and soon Charlotte and Emily sent into London the manuscripts of their two novels JANE EYRE and WUTHERING HEIGHTS. Again both were under the pseudonyms. The two novels were acclaimed, as was a novel by Anne called THE TENANT OF WILDFELL HALL (published as Acton Bell). The novels gained the attention of William Thackeray, and he wrote a glowing review of them - especially of JANE EYRE. Charlotte wrote to Thackeray, and arranged a trip to meet him in London. Then he learned that these three novelists and poets were women.

Thackeray became their greatest booster. It's nice to know that Emily was aware of this, because she died shortly after Bramwell did - after nursing him. Anne wrote a novel AGNES GRAY, and then her health failed too and she died. Now Reverend Bronte found only one child of his six was still alive. Charlotte wrote her "problem of England" novel called SHIRLEY. In 1853 a third novel, VILLETTE (which most critics consider better than JANE EYRE) was published. Charlotte married the Reverend Arthur Bell Nichols in 1854, and within a year she died giving birth to a still born child. A posthumous novel (actually an early version of VILLETTE called THE PROFESSOR) was published. So was a small fragment called EMMA. Reverend Bronte died in 1861, having survived his six children (but knowing that at least three were remembered as writers). Charlotte's husband Reverend Nichols died in 1901.

For a family that has maintained popular interest from their heyday to today, the total literary output of seven novels and a book of poetry is small. But eventually their fans would also have the dozens of surviving notebooks of their childhood fantasies of "Great Glass Town" as well, and even Bramwell's etchings and attempts at painting retain interest. For all it's tragedy of early death, the Brontes retain our fascination as an unexpected blossoming of genius that was cut too short.

DEVOTION, as I said earlier, was close to an outline of the story. It showed some of the biographical background that would shape Charlotte's (Olivia de Haviland's) and Emily's (Ida Lupino's) fiction: Emily's love for the wild moors, which would translate into her imagery for Heathcliff and Cathy Earnshaw in HEIGHTS; and Charlotte's infatuation with a foreign tutor she knew in Belgium (a nice performance by Victor Francken) which is used in creating the character of Paul in VILLETTE. But the fiction is tied to a ruthless streak in Charlotte at her more talented sister's expense, especially over Reverend Nichols (Paul Henreid). Actually Emily never yearned for Nichols, or any man Charlotte liked. Bramwell (Arthur Kennedy) is closer to Emily, and tries to support her - but he's undermined by his drinking and declining health. Anne Bronte (Nancy Coleman) is (unfortunatley typically) given short shrift beside her two better known sister novelists.

Thackeray is played by Sidney Greenstreet, who physically and intellectually matches the rotund genius who gave us BARRY LYNDON, VANITY FAIR, and HENRY ESMOND. He shows an appreciation of Charlotte and shepherds her around London (guarranteeing her social success). But he also realizes - good novelist and critic that he is - that Emily's writing has a raw power that Charlotte's politer writing lacks. But the movie misses that Thackeray's interest in Charlotte and JANE EYRE may have been based on the figure of Rochester's mad wife in the attic (Bertha). It seems Thackeray also had an insane wife. However his social snobbery is deliciously given when he sneers at some street urchins ("Not my public!"), and when he warns Charlotte against an author they pass - Charles Dickens.

DEVOTION is a entertaining film, and a good way to get an audience to look into the Brontes and their literary work. At very least, it leads one to view some movie version of JANE EYRE or WUTHERING HEIGHTS.


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