|Ruth Chatterton and Mary Astor in Dodsworth (1936)|
Dodsworth, which is based on a novel by Sinclair Lewis and a play version of said novel by Sidney Howard -- Howard wrote the screenplay -- is about as bracingly fresh, adult, and sophisticated on the subject of marriage as any film you are ever likely to see. And, in one very important respect the then recent reinstatement of a now no longer toothless Production Code certainly worked in the team's favor: All those separate beds for Huston and Chatterton's married couple? Makes perfect sense. There is no way that married couple sleeps together anymore.
Howard's script time and again brilliantly evokes the type of conversations that real married couples have. There is nothing phony or artificial about the way Huston or Chatterton or Astor express their desires for marriage, happiness, or social standing. And, Hollywood legend Rudolph Maté's use of deep focus, combined with director William Wyler's immaculate and meticulous scene blocking only enhance the drama; placing the viewer inside the film itself.
There are performances to die for here. Huston, who did the Broadway Dodsworth role before the film, and Astor, in particular. Astor has two moments in the film that are both so simple and understated, yet splinteringly evocative. Ms Astor was never more beautiful, as well.
Dodsworth is a sophisticated and honest film for grown-ups about grown-ups. It is as relevant today as it was in 1936. And, it is organized and produced so perfectly that you can tell that every single member of the production team -- actors, writers, design, and technical crew -- absolutely gave it their all to make the finest film they could.
There are no spoilers here because I am recommending this masterpiece about as highly as I can recommend any film. See it for yourself. You will not regret it.
All my love,