Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB. USA, 1938. Twentieth Century Fox. Story by Douglas Z. Doty, Gilbert Emery, Screenplay by Kathryn Scola, Edith Skouras. Cinematography by Robert H. Planck. Produced by Darryl F. Zanuck. Music by Cyril J. Mockridge. Production Design by Bernard Herzbrun, Hans Peters. Costume Design by Royer. Film Editing by Robert L. Simpson.
Barbara Stanwyck brings her usual fiery intensity to this tragic tale of motherhood. She plays a young woman whose fiancé dies in a horrible car accident on the way to City Hall to marry her, a bad situation for her considering that she already has a bun in the oven and now doesn’t have a name to give it. She gives the baby up for adoption upon the advice of new friend Herbert Marshall, works her way up in the world of fashion and becomes a buyer for a very ritzy boutique. Years later, she is in Paris to buy dresses when she runs into a little boy who turns out to be hers; from there the situation gets pretty bizarre, but only because our modern eyes really don’t understand a lot of the stakes involved here. The ending is strange to the point of downright corny, but it’s worth it to see Stanwyck (here capitalizing on her Stella Dallas fame to really wring tears out of the audience’s eyes) even if the film itself offers no challenges to the societal inequities it is focusing on.