On DVD from 20th Century Fox Cinema Archives are two stellar films that celebrate Hollywood from black and white to color film. Director Walter Lang takes us all on a very “Sentimental Journey” and director Jean Negulesco explains how it is a “Woman’s World.”
In “Sentimental Journey” from 1946, Julie Beck (Maureen O’Hara) is working hard with husband Bill (John Payne) on their respective acting and theatre careers.
While walking on the beach, she meets Hitty (Connie Marshall), a young orphaned girl who believes Julie is the Lady of Shalott.
Taken with the young girl, Julie decides that she wants to adopt Hitty so that they can become a family. Of course Julie also has other reasons for bringing the very happy young girl to live with them. Bill likes Hitty but is a bit obsessed with himself to take as much interest as Julie.
When life changes for them all, Bill and Hitty must turn to one another but that isn’t as easy as it seems when they are both in pain. Hitty tries to reach out to Bill but it takes a special visitation for the family to find itself again.
O’Hara as Julie is just stunning but then again I probably don’t have to tell anyone that. In this role she is understanding and brings such gentleness and grace to every line. When she and young Marshall are together on screen there is such a sense of connection between them, just lovely.
Payne as Bill is obsessed with his own career and has a bit of narcissism thinking his needs are more important than anyone else’s. He becomes a bit jealous by Hitty taking Julie’s attention off of him. Payne plays it to the hilt and when sadness hits this character forgets he isn’t the only one.
Marshall as Hitty is just adorable and has such a sense of herself. She wants happiness and knows it is possible but until is comes she creates a world all her own. I love Marshall’s performance and the ease in which I found myself “awwwww”ing her talent.
“Sentimental Journey” is deeply moving and beautifully done. Director Lang brings out the best in this cast into a film that is not only classic (not just because it is filmed in black and white) but a beloved by so many of my film acquaintances.
The second film, “Woman’s World,” is in vibrant color as director Negulesco brings a cast of beautiful and talented women to tell this story. Ernest Gifford (Clifton Webb) is successful businessman looking for a new general manager of his company. The best way to do that is by bringing three hard working candidates to New York with their wives.
Katie (June Allyson) and Bill Baxter (Cornel Wilde) are a couple from a Midwestern town who are happily raising their family. Bill wants the position but isn’t sure how it will affect his family if he is chosen.
Elizabeth (Lauren Bacall) and Sid Burns (Fred MacMurray) are an estranged couple who are playing the role of happy couple. Elizabeth doesn’t want to ruin her husbands chances for success but also isn’t sure she wants to be part of it.
Finally, Carol (Arlene Dahl) and Jerry Talbot (Van Heflin) are a couple who are as different as night and day. Carol wants the glamour and perks of being a general manager’s wife and risks Jerry’s chances several times.
What none of them know is that Mr. Gifford is looking to the wives for his choice making. Calling on his sister Evelyn (Margalo Gillmore) to speak with the wives, she offers her advice on who will be the best candidate.
When the time comes and the announcement is made, it is to the shock of some and the delight of others because it truly is a “Woman’s World.”
Allyson as Katie is adorable and just as cute as cute can be. That is what Allyson was known for in her film roles, the girl-next-door quality that audiences embraced. This role is no exception.
Bacall as Elizabeth is tough-as-nails with the topping of no-nonsense but her scene with Allyson at the dress shop is hilarious. Playing opposite MacMurray there is clearly a coldness between them and yet still a hope that the two could bridge a gap. Bacall is elegant and coiffed to the nines.
Dahl as Carol is the woman who truly needs a lesson in class and sophistication. I actually loved Dahl’s portrayal because it seemed so out of place for her and extremely well done – up to the bitter end.
Webb as Gifford is a man who plays his cards close and is very clever in his dealings. Leaning on Gillmore as sister Evelyn is a stroke of genius in the final decision making
Heflin as Jerry is a man who wants his hard work to mean something to himself and his wife. He is patient and willing to overlook Carol’s ridiculousness but will it cost him is the question.
MacMurray as Sid is trying to cover up the problems in his marriage and even if wife Elizabeth made things easier, some problems can’t be ignored. Wilde as Bill loves his family very much and although he wants what’s best for them, there is a part that sees himself as a general manager. Wilde gives his character heart and sincere motives with a decision that wife Katie supports.
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“Sentimental Journey” and “Woman’s World” are both outstanding films that can be enjoyed by the entire family. Both have themes of family, relationships, decisions that are difficult and the ability to overcome. There are strong female leads in these films with the memorable Maureen O’Hara, June Allyson, Lauren Bacall and Arlene Dahl at their finest.
These films have style, charm and are free of gimmicks that take away from the story. Instead it is clean storytelling that relies on a focused director and a cast that know exactly how to tell the tale.
Both of these films are an absolute must-have for any home media library that includes classic films with iconic talent. I am thrilled that 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment Cinema Archives has brought these films to share with a new generation to appreciate.
In the end — lets take a sentimental journey into a woman’s world!