The Invisible Man
I Am Not Okay with This
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Dodsworth is one of the most underappreciated movies from the 1930s. Its script and dialogue are so sophisticated as the film explores a failing marriage in such a grounded, very effective manner. It's a very moving, rich and complex film that benefits from William Wyler's expectedly terrific direction and an absolutely outstanding, effortless performance from Walter Huston. It's a gem of a film that deserved all of its Oscar nominations.
How odd that during the Great Depression all that the poor masses wanted to see was films about incredibly wealthy and glamorous people going through frivolous relationship struggles that were unimportant when compared to the pains of regular, downtrodden folks. Fortunately during the 1930s, in amongst the trash and ridiculous melodrama, several dramas of a high quality were made that remind modern audiences that people in the 1930s were fairly similar to us and experienced their share of frustration at growing older and falling out of love. This may not be a film quite as good as Make Way for Tomorrow (1937) but very few films are and as the ideas it explores are timeless and it allows an incredible cast to work with an exceptionally observant and intelligent screenplay.
Aging automobile tycoon Samuel Dodsworth, Walter Huston, sells his business after twenty years of building it up so that he can travel around the world with his pretentious, social climbing wife Fran, Ruth Chatterton, who longs to escape from the small town they live in. While on a cruise ship traveling from America to England Fran starts to flirt with the British Captain Lockert, David Niven, who criticizes her when she takes offence to his making advances after she has implied that she is attracted to him. She returns to Dodsworth who has struck up a friendship with the likeminded British widow Edith Cortright, Mary Astor, who shares similar views to him and is starved for company. When the Dodsworths travel to Paris they grow farther apart as Fran falls in with a social crowd full of Europeans who claim to be of noble heritage and use her for her money while Dodsworth spends his days visiting museums. The two separate and Dodsworth returns to America where he is forced to confront the fact that he is no longer needed by his family members.
What this film is about is aging and how two people chose to deal with growing older in completely different ways as one lives in denial of having grown up at all while another slowly comes to terms with the fact that he will have to stop concerning himself with the needs of those around him. This is a couple that have clearly been held together by their children and the various social pressures placed upon them as Dodsworth seems unaware of the extent of his wife's frustration with her life in a small town and her tolerance wears thin very quickly when she is given some measure of freedom. It was this that made me sympathetic to Fran as despite all of her pretensions and ridiculous protestations that she looks only thirty years old she is a woman who has been robbed of her youth, as most women were in this time period, as she has been asked to raise children and care for her husband her whole life. When she is finally allowed to do what her heart desires she makes the wrong decisions but perhaps if she had not faced so many limitations throughout her life she would not have been so irrational and extreme.
Both of them pursue relationships outside of their marriage with Fran pursuing three relationships that fail for different reasons and Dodsworth finding love with a mature, caring woman. I appreciated the fact that in this film the woman who provides our beleaguered male hero with comfort is not some young manic pixie dream girl but a mature woman who has been in love before and is hoping for a fulfilling relationship in which she will be treated as an equal. In their encounters Dodsworth and Cortright are seen to act formally and speak to one another in the hushed tones found only in 1930s films. Yet there is the lovely sense of an attraction to one another's minds and not their bodies that suggests a relationship that will allow a man who feels he has no purpose to find some solace in a world that values youth. In comparison Fran's relationships are all seen to be rushed and based on more on how Fran will appear alongside these men than on any attraction to the men themselves. Lockert seems a sophisticate when compared to her husband, Arnold Iselin, Paul Lukas, would offer her status and Kurt Von Obersdorf, Gregory Gaye, the regaining of a lost youth she never really had in the first place. The two find themselves wanting different things as they move into a phase of their lives where they are asked to appreciate the simple comforts in life and with Fran's refusal to accept change comes a painful separation.
One must note that this was one of the early successes of director William Wyler and he directs the film tastefully while allowing for it to really serve as an examination of this complex, fascinating relationship. He never strays from Fran and Dodsworth and because Chatterton and Huston give such powerful performances it is not hard to be drawn into the film. Huston is gifted with perhaps the more difficult role as his performance could seem one note what with his tolerance of his wife's indiscretions but he conveys his slow disillusionment with his wife successfully and when he finally leaves her he gives the impression of a man who has weathered a great deal with his awkward posturing and just a few flashes of his sad eyes. Chatterton gets a role that calls for a showier performance and she delivers with her Fran being easy to hate but underneath that veneer she shows us all we need as she is a fragile woman racked with insecurity. It is frustrating to watch this character make the same mistakes three times but Chatterton makes us believe that this is the sort of woman who easily forgets past mistakes and we feel a twinge of discomfort as she steps into new relationships that are sure to end in disaster. Maria Ouspenskaya and Astor put in good work in supporting roles as they give their characters much needed depth and provide Chatterton and Huston with ample opportunity to shine.
The best, GREATEST movie ever made!
I do not like Wyler, but if told me to recommend one, I will name the name of this work. Composition that puts a burning letter fluttering in the center of the screen with the hero at the end. Directed using a lot of screen, the direction that makes two people play by vertical sense of distance. When I look at such a directing that I can not see so much in recent movies, I feel relieved. Mate's skill is also great.
In one way I feel like I should hate Dodsworth. I have a tendency to have a lot of empathy for protagonists when I watch movies, and Sam Dodsworth has to endure a lot especially from one irritating source. Yet I was connecting with the emotion of the story so much that it didn’t matter to me. The way he took control of his situation was compelling and there’s a resolution that was just what I wanted. That was the most important thing for this story, that it hit on an emotional level, and it succeeded at that, so most of my complaints kind of melted away in the end because I felt satisfied with the way they handled the story. The performance of Walter Huston was superb, and he shows some serious range. I was impressed at how well you could see his underlying thoughts when he didn’t express them. Perhaps one of the most noteworthy scenes is when he has gone back home and you see the full range of emotions he’s been afraid to show up to that point. Ruth Chatterton is what she needs to be for the part. I think at times she might have been a little too obvious as the mean-spirited and egotistical wife, when she could have been a little less evil, but it works for the story. The rest of the cast supported the two leads well, and it’s always a treat for me to see David Niven even in a small part like this one There are some frustrating elements to the story in Dodsworth, and I was afraid I was going to get overly discouraged by it. There were moments when I was annoyed, but it was all related to how authentic it all felt This is how real people feel, and this is the kind of ordeal that real relationships often go through. The film could have been even more impressive if both sides of the relationship were treated as though they were in the right, but we are definitely left to think of one as good and the other as bad. That being said, Dodsworth is a good film and one that kept me fully engaged from start to finish.
Awesome, almost perfect in every way. The acting is
on par with the greatest movies of all time.
This is the true Opus One of William Wyler career: a sophisticated, complex, advanced moral film for the adult audience.
Loved this movie! Mary Astors last scene brought tears to my eyes, it was so authentic.
Dodsworth is a decent film. It is about a retired auto manufacturer and his wife who take a long-planned European vacation only to find that they want very different things from life. Walter Huston and Ruth Chatterton give good performances. The screenplay is enjoyable but a little slow in places. William Wyler did an alright job directing this movie. I liked this motion picture because of the drama and romance.
This movie has an exciting thrid act that unfortunatly is preceded by two slow boring acts before it. The beginning of the story could have been told in half an hour but it just dragged on. There is a good scene at the end where dodsworth is in an argument with his wife while the crowd around there seems to bustle more and more as there tempers rise. I also think that the path is wife decides to take is uncharacteristic of women so i found it hard to believe, although i guess if it were him this movie wouldn't be unique. Though you never see exactly what she is up to if you understand what the movie implies its seems like a super aggressive attack against him and there marriage. So when you watch this film you can half pay attention until the end and you will get the while thing.