Saturday, June 25, 2016

Tonight's Movie: The Affairs of Susan (1945)

THE AFFAIRS OF SUSAN (1945) is a delightful film showcasing the comedic talent of Joan Fontaine.

Fontaine plays Susan, a sheltered young girl living on an island. She meets Roger (George Brent), a Broadway writer-producer, when he comes to the island seeking solitude to work on his latest project.

Roger is enchanted by Susan's unaffected honesty. In short order they marry and she becomes a Broadway star, but her inability to play the social game, being bluntly honest with all comers, leads to an early end to the marriage.

Susan then has romances with timber tycoon Mike (Don DeFore), intellectual writer Bill (Dennis O'Keefe), and politically connected Richard (Walter Abel). Through her relationships Susan gradually matures. She considers marrying each of her suitors, but in the end all roads lead back to a fresh start to her marriage to Roger.

One might not think that a "divorce comedy" in which a woman strings along four different men could be charming, but it very much is, thanks to a well-written script from an Oscar-nominated story and the deft playing of the strong cast.

Front and center is Fontaine, once again displaying her chameleon-like acting as Susan. Fontaine's ability to completely inhabit her characters, including varying her vocal qualities and body language, strikes me as more remarkable with each film I see. She has a wonderful role in this, taking her character from innocent girl to Broadway misfit to a woman who attracts men like flies, but secretly wants just one.

Fontaine is particularly delightful in the early scenes, where Roger can't quite believe she's not starstruck or interested in being an actress. Her frank, immediate avowal of love for Roger is memorable, particularly the way she says "I certainly will" when he proposes -- before he's even kissed her!

Brent is perfectly cast as Roger, who comes to realize that he hasn't been fair in his expectations of Susan, and who patiently waits for her return. The other actors are all good, particularly DeFore, whose character would be a catch if only Susan weren't already in love with Roger.

Mary Field has a good part as Susan's maid, and Rita Johnson has one of her patented "smiling but vicious" roles as a jealous actress.

THE AFFAIRS OF SUSAN was directed by William A. Seiter and filmed in black and white by David Abel. Fontaine's great wardrobe was designed by Edith Head. The movie runs 110 minutes.

Like so many Paramount films, THE AFFAIRS OF SUSAN is not on DVD. Hopefully at some point in the future Universal, which owns the rights, will make this and many other Paramount films more easily available for viewing.

At this writing, THE AFFAIRS OF SUSAN is available on YouTube; anyone interested in seeing it should make haste, as films have a way of disappearing from YouTube on short notice.

There's also a Lux radio version with Fontaine, Brent, and DeFore which may be heard here.


OpenID vienna said...

A George Brent film I haven't seen! Thanks for the heads-up about You Tube.

7:05 AM  
Blogger Caftan Woman said...

What a cast! William Seiter has directed many films that are favourites and it sounds like this will be no exception.

8:43 AM  

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