The Great Lie (1941)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB.5.  

USA, 1941.  Warner Bros..  Screenplay by Lenore J. Coffee, based on the novel The Far Horizon by Polan Banks.  Cinematography by Tony Gaudio.  Produced by Hal B. Wallis.  Music by Max Steiner.  Production Design by Carl Jules Weyl.  Costume Design by Orry-Kelly.  Film Editing by Ralph Dawson.  Academy Awards 1941.

When  and  elope, they find out their marriage is invalid because her previous divorce has yet to come through. Complications ensue and soon Brent is off to marry a former sweetheart (), not realizing that he’s left Astor pregnant since their wedding night (though I believe the word Davis uses to refer to Astor’s condition is “special”, since “pregnant” was still forbidden by the Hayes code). When Brent is believed dead on a trip to South America, Davis takes Astor to a cabin hideout until her baby is born, offering her a giant sum of money to adopt the child since she is the father’s rightful wife. Mr. Dearly Departed turns out to be still with the living, so a bitch-vs-bitch battle ensues to see who will inherit both the husband and the child. Astor is particularly excellent in a more complex role than she was used to, having come off her stint in thirties movies as a frivolous sexpot and heading into her forties spate of playing caring mothers and doting widows (Meet Me In St. Louis, Little Women). Here she plays a concert pianist, something Astor truly was in real life, but to her disappointment her playing was dubbed by a more accomplished (male) performer.

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