Dodsworth 1936 NR

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(81) IMDb 8.2/10
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An adaptation of Sinclair Lewis' novel about a middle-aged American automobile tycoon who retires and goes to Europe, where he and his appearance-conscious, snobbish wife find differing sets of values... and new relationships.

Starring:
Walter Huston, Ruth Chatterton
Runtime:
1 hour, 42 minutes

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89 of 90 people found the following review helpful By Fernando Silva on September 25, 2002
Format: DVD
Actors build up their characters at very close perfection in this outstanding film, which deals with the conflicts of a middleaged married american couple in an european-second-honeymoon trip. One wonders how such a poignant, adult film, could be made under the strictures of the Production Code, which reigned supreme from 1934.
The cast is uniformly flawless: Walter Huston, as industrialist Sam Dodsworth, gives one of the most sincere and unaffected performances ever achieved by an actor on the american screen (he deserved an Academy Award for this role); lovely and very pretty Mary Astor, in a most sympatthetic role, as an american widow living in Naples, Italy, who falls in love with Huston, realizing they're soulmates; Ruth Chatterton, as Fran Dodsworth, the self-centered, snobbish, selfish, spoiled, manipulative, unnerving & ultimately flirtatious wife of Huston, who cannot cope with growing old and ends looking down on her husband, hometown friends, way of life, etc....yearning for the "european"chic & sophisticated ways of its idle upper classes; Paul Lukas, as the suave, continental man who uses his charms on Chatterton; David Niven, as one of Chatterton's suitors; a very young John Payne, as the Dodsworths' son-in-law; and character actress Madame Maria Ouspenskaya, making her american debut, as the old baroness who spoils Chatterton's wedding plans to her much younger son Kurt (played by Gregory Gaye), who not only is an impoverished nobleman, but cannot make decisions of his very own!
Samuel Goldwyn, the legendary and indomitable Hollywood producer, must be given the praise for making the decision to film such a delicate and sensitive movie, with an "A" class treatment, in spite of its lack of commercial punch for regular `30s moviegoers.
Really one of the best Hollywood movies of all time, and a truly timeless 1930s classic. Buying this dvd has been one of the smartest investments of my adult life.
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By James L. on July 30, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
I was surprised by how honestly and maturely this film dealt with its subject matter of a marriage slowly falling apart. It's not what I expected to see coming from 1930's Hollywood. Walter Huston and Ruth Chatterton star as the Dodsworths, a wealthy American couple who go to Europe after his retirement, and while there, discover how little they have in common with each other, and how quickly they are growing apart. She is a vain woman who wants to regain her youth and live a glamourous life, while he is a practical man who wants meaning to his life. Huston is excellent as the conflicted husband, while Chatterton unsubtly tackles her unlikeable character with some success. Mary Astor is terrific (as always) as the woman that Dodsworth should be with. Dodswoth's pain at his disintegrating marriage and life is honestly portrayed, and the ending is very satisfying. This is a terrific film from start to finish, and audiences today will find it both relevant and accurate.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Ed Uyeshima HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on June 12, 2005
Format: DVD
This one is a gem, and along with "The Best Years of Our Lives", director William Wyler's best film, which is high praise since he has one of the most impressive canons in Hollywood history. This 1936 classic has to be one of the most mature views of marriage and divorce ever provided by the Hollywood studio system, and the cinematic translation of Sinclair Lewis' novel also represents Wyler's signature humanism at its most absorbing. The story centers on the Dodsworths - Sam is a millionaire industrialist who just sold his large automotive company so he can enjoy life with his vainglorious wife Fran, perpetually restless and fearful of getting old. They sail to Europe, as they usually did in 1930's romantic melodramas, and Fran wastes no time in flirting with Clyde Lockert, a young and perceptive lothario who sees the aging Fran for the fraud she is but pursues her anyway. This turns out to be the first of three liaisons Fran selfishly pursues, as the prospect of becoming a grandmother sends her over the edge while Sam patiently waits for her to come to her senses.

Walter Huston gives one of the great screen performances as Sam, perfectly evoking his everyman demeanor in either full bluster or shades of subtlety. In a particularly brave turn, Ruth Chatterton plays his fortyish wife with palpable desperation and vindictive fervor, conveying the pretentiousness of a woman who wants to be Continental but never will be. She loses viewer sympathy with appropriate fearlessness but also with an interesting ambiguity that prevents her from being a stock villainess. In one of his earliest roles, David Niven already displays his trademark cavalier wit as Lockert.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Miles D. Moore VINE VOICE on September 13, 2000
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
It is a stinging indictment of today's Hollywood that a movie like Dodsworth probably couldn't get made today. In its emotional richness and complexity, it demands an audience that doesn't expect an explosion or a poopoo joke every ten seconds. Walter Huston gives one of the all-time great performances as Sam Dodsworth, a self-made millionaire who goes to Europe searching for his roots. Unfortunately, his neurotic wife Fran (Ruth Chatterton, an unjustly forgotten actress) goes with him searching for something else entirely, and the movie is largely about the suffering her emotional games-playing causes him. Add Mary Astor as an elegant American divorcee, Paul Lukas and David Niven as shady Europeans, and Maria Ouspenskaya as a wise old Austrian baroness, and you have a great cast giving life to a screenplay of uncommon literacy and wisdom. Dodsworth is a movie for people who are willing to pay attention, who don't want everything spelled out in huge letters, and who agree with F. Scott Fitzgerald that action is character.
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