The Sisters (1938) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Sisters (1938)

The Sisters





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

The 1938 filmization of Myron Brinig's novel The Sisters stars Bette Davis, Jane Bryan and Anita Louise as Louise, Grace and Helen Elliot. The daughters of turn-of-the-century druggist Henry Travers and his wife Beulah Bondi, the Elliot girls all meet their future husbands at a 1904 ball in honor of President Teddy Roosevelt. Special emphasis is given the relationship between Louise and reckless, irresponsible newspaperman Frank Medlin (Errol Flynn). Feeling trapped by his marriage, Medlin turns to drink and philandering. When Frank eventually runs off to Singapore, Louise is too proud to hold her husband by informing him that she's pregnant. Caught up in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake (superbly conveyed with a single interior shot of a collapsing apartment), Louise wanders around dazedly until she finds shelter in an Oakland brothel (though it is not so specified). She loses her baby, but is consoled by her employer Ian Hunter, who falls in love with her. The original book ended with Louise giving up her unhappy marriage for a joyous relationship with her boss; the film ends with Louise being reunited with the suddenly sobered Frank (despite the protests of both Bette Davis and Errol Flynn). A prime example of Hollywood Soap Opera, The Sisters also yielded an amusing reel of outtakes, the best of which shows Bette Davis breaking up Errol Flynn by sighing "I've just had a baby in the ladies' room."more
Rating: Unrated
Genre: Drama, Classics
Directed By:
Written By: Milton Krims
In Theaters:
On DVD: Oct 28, 1992
Warner Bros. Pictures


Bette Davis
as Louise Elliott
Jane Bryan
as Grace Elliott
Anita Louise
as Helen Elliott
Errol Flynn
as Frank Medlin
Ian Hunter
as William Benson
Henry Travers
as Ned Elliott
Beulah Bondi
as Rose Elliott
Donald Crisp
as Tim Hazleton
Dick Foran
as Tom Knivel
Patric Knowles
as Norman French
Alan Hale
as Sam Johnson
Janet Shaw
as Stella Johnson
Lee Patrick
as Flora Gibbon
Laura Hope Crewes
as Flora's Mother
Harry Davenport
as Doc Moore
Irving Bacon
as Norman Forbes
Paul Harvey
as Caleb Ammon
Arthur Hoyt
as Tom Selig
John Warburton
as Lord Anthony Bittick
Stanley Fields
as Ship's Captain
Ruth Garland
as Lora Bennett
Larry Williams
as Young Man
Stuart Holmes
as Bartender
Susan Hayward
as Telephone Operator
Rosella Towne
as Telephone Operator
Paulette Evans
as Telephone Operator
Frances Morris
as Telephone Operator
Jack Mower
as Ship's Officer
Lee Phelps
as Announcer
Granville Bates
as Announcer
Bob Perry
as Referee
Mildred Gover
as Black Maid
Jang Lim
as Chinese Man
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Sisters

Critic Reviews for The Sisters

All Critics (3) | Top Critics (2)

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Full Review… | August 17, 2007
Not Coming to a Theater Near You

Audience Reviews for The Sisters


The troubles of three sisters over a four year period, Bette has the most problems of course. Well made, the earthquake scene is most impressive, and acted. Flynn is at the peak of his attractiveness and the turn of the century fashions suit Bette. Susan Hayward has a wordless bit as a telephone operator. A good show.

jay nixon

Super Reviewer

good chick flick & also WB's answer to MGM's hugely successful 'san francisco' also this was the last Bette Davis movie I haven't seen until now.


The Sisters (1938) -- [5.0] -- Bette Davis marries Errol Flynn and moves to San Francisco, but their happy marriage begins to disintegrate when he can't support the couple and turns to drinking. It may be the writing more than the performances, but there's not much chemistry between Flynn and Davis (who hated each other in real life). The film sticks primarily with Davis' character, short-changing the subplots revolving around Davis' sisters (Anita Louise and and Jane Bryan). The 1906 San Francisco earthquake is depicted from inside Davis' apartment -- pretty neat practical effects for the time, though living on the top floor, she'd surely have been killed. Davis and Flynn would be paired one more time, and more successfully, in "The Private Lives of Elizabeth and Essex" a year later.

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