Sunday, March 14, 2010

Tonight's Movie: And One Was Beautiful (1940)

19-year-old Laraine Day is appealing as a woman who suspects her sister is guilty of manslaughter in the MGM melodrama AND ONE WAS BEAUTIFUL.

Day plays Katie, a tomboyish young lady whose passion is auto mechanics. Katie is a bit of a Cinderella one evening when she attends a dance in her sister's place and falls head over heels for dashing playboy Ridley Crane (Robert Cummings).

Katie's more glamorous older sister, Helen (Jean Muir), is also taken with Ridley, and he returns her interest; however, their blooming relationship takes an unexpected turn. On the way home from a late night at a roadhouse, Helen gets behind the wheel of a drunken Ridley's car and accidentally kills a bicyclist. Helen flees the scene of the accident, leaving Ridley -- who doesn't remember what happened -- to face the consequences. Katie is torn between not wanting to face her suspicions about her sister and wanting to help the man she loves.

The plot is a bit overwrought, as a great deal of it focuses on the anguish suffered by Katie and Helen, but it's interesting. There is good character development for both Katie and Ridley. I liked Ridley's acceptance of responsibility for his role in the tragic events; like Ridley, Katie grows up and ultimately turns her anger and grief into something positive.

Jean Muir is effective as Helen, a cool blonde who thinks far too much of herself and who isn't above using a fine man (Frank Milan) as an escape from her problems. Billie Burke is excellent, as always, as the girls' loving mother.

The supporting cast includes Esther Dale, Charles Waldron, Paul Stanton, and Rand Brooks.

I couldn't help wondering if some of the terrace exteriors might have been filmed on a PHILADELPHIA STORY set, as that movie was released the same year.

This film was directed by Robert B. Sinclair. Other Sinclair films include I'LL WAIT FOR YOU (1941) and THAT WONDERFUL URGE (1948).

The movie was shot in black and white and runs 70 minutes.

This film has not had a DVD or video release, but it is part of the library at Turner Classic Movies, which has the trailer available here.


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