A bittersweet tale of the increasing estrangement of a retired automobile tycoon and his wife. Increasingly obsessed with maintaining an appearance of youth, she falls in with a crowd of frivolous socialites during their "second honeymoon" European vacation. He, in turn, meets a woman who is everything she is not: self-assured, self-confident, and able to take care of herself.Written by
Sonya Roberts <email@example.com>
Although the film was shot entirely in the studio, William Wyler sent a camera crew to London, Paris, Vienna, Montreux and Naples for background shots that would be projected behind the sets to recreate the Dodsworths' European tour. Wyler knew many of the locales from personal travels and gave minutely detailed instructions about the kinds of shots he wanted, but many of them were rejected in the final cut in order to keep the film from feeling like a travelogue. Only those crucial to the story survived. See more »
The way Kurt holds his hat when he tries to get Sam to go out with him and Fran. See more »
The men are ready.
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Dodsworth is one of the best dramas of the 1930s. Walter Huston stars as Dodsworth, a middle-aged auto tycoon who looks forward to retirement. His wife--Ruth Chatterton--is not quite ready for the rocking chair. They embark on a grad tour of Europe. From the start Chatterton falls for the cosmopolitan airs of Europe and the attentions of the debonair men. More and more she leaves Dodsaworth alone as she flits among the cafe society. By accident he runs into a lonely American widow (Mary Astor) living in Italy. As the husband and wife drift farther apart, he moves closer to Astor. Yes it sounds like soap opera, but the acting is so good and the characters so real you forget the plot mechanics.
Huston has one of his very best film roles as the floundering Dodsworth who needs an anchor. Chatterton is excellent as the foolish wife (this was her last film), and Astor is a wonder as the American widow. The three stars turn in towering performances.
The rest of the cast includes Maria Ouspenskaya and the old countess, Spring Byington and Harlan Briggs as the best friends, John Payne as the son in law, David Niven as a gigolo, Gregory Gaye as the suitor, Paul Lukas as Arnold, and Odette Myrtil as the social leach.
There was talk in the mid-90s that Harrison Ford would star in a new version of Dodsworth but he never followed through because he wanted to continue his "action" roles. Too bad. Ford has certain qualities that would have made him (or Warren Beatty) ideal for the part. But Ford and Beatty are too old now. Oddly only Huston and Ouspenskaya earned Oscar nominations. Hard to see how Chatterton and Astor got bypassed.
This is a great American film.
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