While this does not rank among the very best of Bette Davis' films, it is exceptional and extremely entertaining. The reason it doesn't quite make it to the heights of the great movies such as LITTLE FOXES or ALL ABOUT EVE is that the plot, though interesting, is so impossible that if you really stop and think about it, it all makes very little sense. However, provided you are not a close-minded curmudgeon (I, myself am an open-minded curmudgeon), then forgetting about the impossibilities isn't an issue and you can sit back and love this film.
The film begins with George Brent eloping with Mary Astor. After they both sober up, Brent can't help but notice that Astor is a highly strung and demanding....um...diva (I'm trying to keep this review family-friendly). That same sober morning, Brent is told that the marriage is not legal, as Astor's divorce decree isn't yet final, so they'll have to remarry. Fortunately, the guy realizes that Astor is a baby-eating monster and leaves--back into the arms of his ex-fiancĂ©, Bette Davis.
Davis had been terribly wronged by Brent, as they were STILL engaged when Brent eloped with Astor. However, Brent is super apologetic and convinces her to marry him--after all, the marriage to Astor wasn't legal.
Shortly after this, Brent is killed while on government business in Brazil. Davis is sad, but things get really interesting when she learns that Brent's one night "marriage" to Astor has resulted in pregnancy!! Astor, however, has all the maternal instincts of a hamster, so Davis convinces her to take the baby to term and then give it to her to raise--after all, she'd love to have Brent's baby. While never said, it was implied that if Davis hadn't made this deal to finance the baby's birth, then Astor would have probably gotten an illegal abortion.
During the months living all alone with Davis, Astor is quickly going stir-crazy. However, if she has the baby, she must keep it a secret or it might harm her musical career (after all, this was the 1940s). Plus, Davis intends to return home and tell everyone it is her biological child--or at least let them think this. This portion of the film is probably the most interesting, as Astor goes from being selfish and mean to being like Davis' character in the film WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE?--but only meaner and grumpier!! Astor's part allows her to scream, yell, nearly burn down their cabin and run amok with wild abandon. This ain't exactly intellectual fare, but wow is it fun to watch as it unfolds!! It was really interesting that in this film, Davis is in control and sweet and Astor is the Devil's daughter (well, practically Satan's kid--she's THAT selfish and cruel).
After the baby is born, as agreed Astor splits and leaves the baby with Davis--showing no second thoughts or concerns for the kid. However, when out of the blue, Brent is discovered alive in the Amazonian jungle, Astor sees her chance to return to not only bust up the marriage, but take the child AND Brent for herself. This leads to a very satisfying conclusion that practically brought this old grouch to tears.
As I said above, there are so many impossible situations piled on top of each other that the plot is all but ridiculous. But, with amazing dial dialog, acting and very, very smooth direction and production, this couldn't help but be a great film. A must-see for old movie buffs.
The Great Lie
The Great Lie
Sandra and Pete elope but their marriage is invalid since she's not yet divorced. Sandra is, however, pregnant by Pete. Pete marries his former fiancĂ©e Maggie, then flies to South America where his plane crashes. Maggie pays Sandra to let her adopt Pete's baby. Pete returns "from the dead". Sandra and Maggie contend for Pete and the baby. â€”Ed Stephan
Uploaded By: FREEMAN
October 07, 2021 at 05:08 PM