Sunday, December 30, 2018

Tonight's Movie: B.F.'s Daughter (1948) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

Barbara Stanwyck stars as Polly Fulton, otherwise known as B.F.'S DAUGHTER (1948), available on DVD from the Warner Archive.

This is an Archive release from several years ago, but as I periodically remind readers, Warner Archive films are manufactured on demand, so even older titles remain as available now as they were when they were first released.

B.F.'S DAUGHTER is a pretty good marital melodrama which held my attention throughout, thanks largely to Stanwyck, who's in virtually every scene in the movie.

Polly, the daughter of a wealthy industrialist, is semi-engaged to a childhood friend, Bob (Richard Hart), but the proper and rigid Bob refuses to marry until he makes partner at his law firm.

Polly falls in love with Tom Brett (Van Heflin), a financially strapped writer and professor she meets in a bar. She likes him enough to take him home to sew a button back on his jacket; he's in shock over the size of the family mansion -- and her mother (Spring Byington) is in shock to see Polly wielding a needle and thread!

Polly impulsively agrees to marry Tom when they've known each other only 24 hours, to the dismay of both Bob and her father.

Polly and Tom initially live in a small cabin, on Tom's financial terms. Unbeknownst to Tom, Polly offers a financial guarantee to a speaking tour promoter, which launches Bob's career as a pundit and "wise man" who becomes active in Washington political circles. Tom, who disdains Polly's money, is upset when he later learns this secondhand, despite the fact that he was responsible for his ultimate success.

Polly and Tom struggle with their marriage, while Bob marries Polly's best friend, "Apples" (Margaret Lindsay), and Polly's father struggles with his health.

That's the broad outline of the story, which may not sound particularly scintillating, yet I found it quite absorbing. Although I generally like Heflin very much, he's quite irritating in this film, but then I guess he's supposed to be. (I really felt Polly's pain when late in the film she berates him for having been "mean" to her father.) Stanwyck carries the film as tenacious Polly, well supported by Coburn, Lindsay, Hart, and Byington.

Coburn has a beautiful moment as the doting father who is crushed to learn his only child is going to abandon her plans to wed staid but honorable Bob; he tears up but pretends the sun is in his eyes and closes the blinds. It's a quiet but very moving piece of acting.

Byington likewise has a great scene illustrating her character's innate cluelessness and kindness; when Tom sarcastically offers a toast to B.F., "from whom all blessings flow," Byington's character takes his words literally and sweetly says how nice it was. Again, a lovely moment which reveals much about her character.

Keenan Wynn is, like Heflin, fairly annoying as a radio editorialist who constantly gets things wrong. Marshall Thompson has a small role as well.

B.F.'S DAUGHTER was produced with the usual MGM high gloss. It may not be as entertaining as the melodrama Stanwyck and Heflin made at the studio the following year, EAST SIDE, WEST SIDE (1949), but I found it definitely worth seeing.

B.F.'S DAUGHTER was directed by Robert Z. Leonard and filmed in black and white by Joseph Ruttenberg. The screenplay by Luther Davis was based on a novel by John P. Marquand. The movie's running time is 108 minutes.

The print and sound of the Warner Archive DVD were both very good. There are no extras on the disc.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop or from any online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays are sold.


Blogger Caftan Woman said...

I saw this only once years ago and my main memory is of wanting to slap Van Heflin's character. H'm. It may be due another look.

6:19 AM  
Blogger barrylane said...

Caftan Woman -- you got it right.

9:51 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

LOL I see I'm not the only one who found him annoying! His character needed to learn that being "right" (in his own eyes) didn't excuse bad manners or a lack of communication, among other things.

Best wishes,

7:08 PM  
Blogger Alan Shuback said...

Heflin's character is the very epitome of a snob, the very thing he claims to despise. This film is egregiously wrong-headed...and boring to boot. Stanwyck is at least ten years too old for the part.

10:47 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks for sharing your opinion, Alan. Sorry to hear you didn't find it as interesting as I did, but it would be a boring world indeed if we all saw movies just the same!

Best wishes,

12:21 PM  

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