In This Our Life


In This Our Life

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Movie Info

In this film, Bette Davis stars as Stanley Timberlake. Spoiled rotten, the wealthy Stanley runs roughshod over her milquetoast father, even as she twists her wealthy uncle around her little finger. The limit comes when Stanley, driving in excess of the speed limit, strikes and kills a mother and child.


Bette Davis
as Stanley Timberlake
Olivia de Havilland
as Roy Timberlake
Dennis Morgan
as Peter Kingsmill
George Brent
as Craig Fleming
Charles Coburn
as William Fitzroy
Frank Craven
as Asa Timberlake
Billie Burke
as Lavinia Timberlake
Hattie McDaniel
as Minerva Clay
Lee Patrick
as Betty Wilmoth
Mary Servoss
as Charlotte Fitzroy
Ernest Anderson
as Parry Clay
Edward Fielding
as Dr. Buchanan
John Hamilton
as Inspector
Ruth Ford
as Young mother
Al Bridge
as Worker
Walter Huston
as Bartender
Walter Brooke
as Cab driver
Lee Phelps
as Policeman
Reid Kilpatrick
as Announcer
Ira Buck Woods
as Black Man in Jail (uncredited)
Sam McDaniel
as Black Man in Jail (uncredited)
Billy Mitchell
as Black Man in Jail (uncredited)
Napoleon Simpson
as Black Man in Jail (uncredited)
Sammy "Sunshine" Morrison
as Black Man in Jail (uncredited)
Jester Hairston
as Black Man in Jail (uncredited)
Freddie Jackson
as Black Man in Jail (uncredited)
Fred Kelsey
as Jailer (uncredited)
Billy Wayne
as Customer
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Critic Reviews for In This Our Life

All Critics (3) | Fresh (2) | Rotten (1)

Audience Reviews for In This Our Life

  • Sep 08, 2018
    Olivia de Havilland and Bette Davis are sisters named Roy and Stanley in this film from director John Huston, and surprise surprise, Davis is conniving and de Havilland is virtuous. In a mirror relationship, their father (Frank Craven) is a nice guy who has been taken advantage of by his loud-mouthed business partner, his own brother-in-law (Charles Coburn). We get a glimpse of the character of Davis and Coburn when she flirts with him and he showers gifts on her, expecting a kiss on the lips in return. It's a creepy relationship that we'll see resurface a few times in the film. Early on, we find de Havilland married to a doctor (Dennis Morgan), and Davis engaged to a lawyer (George Brent). de Havilland is faithfully devoted to her husband, so imagine her shock when she discovers that, out of the blue, one day he's run away with her own sister. I won't say too much more about the plot lest I spoil it, but suffice to say that Davis's character doesn't stop there. Bette Davis is as entertaining as ever. At her best in the film, she's playing a manipulative character who is essentially acting, but not acting quite as well as a professional would. We basically see a great actor portraying a character who is only a good actor. At her worst in the film, which is still pretty darn good, she over-acts, or at the very least, pushes the limits of the character. de Havilland is a contrast both because of her role, and her more subdued approach. It's interesting to see her process being abandoned, hardening and becoming guarded a bit, but also living in the moment and remaining true to herself. What a nice little exchange she has when she starts seeing Brent's character: Roy (de Havilland): "There's nothing permanent but now. The moment. That's all there is." Craig (Brent): "There'll be other moments. And there'll be other days. I'm not going to lose you." Roy: "You'll only lose me if you try to hold me. Don't do that..." In Charles Coburn, we see the classic successful capitalist, a man with few scruples and who will stop at nothing to come out on top. No wonder he gets along with Davis's character so well; he betrays his own brother-in-law, and she betrays her own sister. We see his view of the common man (and non-caucasians) in these lines: "He's coming by for me later. Probably one of those civil-liberty affairs. Civil liberty. Ha! If you ask me, they're concerned only with liberty for the wrong people." "Who are the wrong people, William?" "The people who aren't worth a cent and never will be, that's who." And that's what clinches the film for me - aside from de Havilland, Davis, and Huston, it's got a quiet little social message, and stands up for African-Americans. We see a young man (Ernest Anderson) studying a law book late at night to advance in the world, because, as he puts it: "...a white boy, he can take most any kind of job and improve himself. Well, like in this store. Maybe he can get to be a clerk or a manager. But a colored boy, he can't do that. He can keep a job or he can lose a job. But he can't get any higher up. So he's got to figure out something he can do that no one can take away. And that's why I want to be a lawyer." It's wonderful to see de Havilland encourage him after he says this, and at first that seems to be just an interesting little side note in the film, but the character resurfaces later. After he's made it in a law office, he's falsely imprisoned when it's his word vs. a white person's (being vague on purpose). While the eventual jailhouse confrontation scene is a little contrived, Huston's panning across other African-American prisoners can't help but make at least a part of the audience wonder how many of them may also be innocent, and there is no ambiguity in the overall moral message of the scene. Anderson is earnest in his performance, and Hattie McDaniel (as his mom) is as well. The film is a little over-the-top and melodramatic in places, and it strains credibility by just how easily Davis is accepted by the family after what she does. It does rile us up a bit though, and I was mesmerized by these two legends. The thought occurred to me as I was watching it that it would have been more interesting had the two actresses been in each other's role, since they are a bit typecast here. Entertaining film though, and look for the cameo from Huston's father, Walter.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Jun 17, 2012
    Director John Huston's second film (after "The Maltese Falcon") was a "women's picture," believe it or not, but it has his masculine, maverick stamp all over it. It's depressing to me that so few people remember "In This Our Life." I had never heard of it until two weeks ago! I suspect the major reason it has been ignored (suppressed?) is that it challenged white audiences to look at their racism. Quite a ballsy thing to do in 1942, especially given the fact that the United States had just entered World War II. Perhaps understandably, white Americans were in no mood to be criticized at the time of their supreme sacrifice. I can understand that it was too tough to be appreciated in the 1940s, but why hasn't it been rediscovered since? Perhaps there's something about it that still cuts too close to the bone for white Americans. Let's not forget that most still live in all-white communities and wouldn't sell their house to a black family. Bette Davis and Olivia de Havilland star as sisters in a charming small town. De Havilland has recently gotten married, and her sister (Davis) seduces the husband and runs off with him! And that's just in the first half-hour. Davis's character reveals more and more layers of narcissism and treachery. There are hints of an unwholesome aspect to Davis's relationship with her uncle. Then in the last half-hour there is the cherry on her loathsome cake. She frames a young black man for a crime she commits. This young man is a servant who is practically part of the family and is struggling to put himself through law school. His mother, incidentally, is played by Hattie McDaniel, who just a couple years earlier had made history as the first black actor to win an Oscar (for "Gone With the Wind"). "In This Our Life" is not a great film, but it has so much merit. Its disappearance from film history is a gross injustice.
    William D Super Reviewer
  • Sep 05, 2010
    Just by reading the synopsis on here, you can tell this movie involves a very complicated love story. I think it's a bit too complicated. It's an okay movie, but it's not great.
    Aj V Super Reviewer
  • Jun 17, 2009
    Bette Davis is sooo good at being bad.
    nefnie l Super Reviewer

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