This week Turner Classic Movies is showing Devotion(1948), a highly fictionalized yet very entertaining story of literary legends, sisters Emily and Charlotte Brontë. The story begins with the Bronte siblings, Emily (Ida Lupino) Charlotte (Olivia de Havilland) Anne (Nancy Coleman) and Branwell (Arthur Kennedy) spending a day out on the moors. Kennedy's Branwell Bronte is a tortured, darkly cynical, self defeating alcoholic, living in the shadow of his more driven sisters. Lupino plays Emily as stoic, practical and shy about her work. She is haunted by dreams of a dark, mysterious stranger on horseback riding the moors. De Havilland plays Charlotte as the driven, ambitious romantic who dreams of literary success for her and Emily. Younger sister Anne is the perky sister played by perky Nancy Coleman.
|L to R: Olivia de Havilland, Ida Lupino and Nancy Coleman as the Bronte Sisters in Devotion|
|Olivia de Havilland, Arthur Kennedy and Nancy Coleman out on the Moors in Devotion|
|Bedtime for the Brontë's|
This is a great, moody, gothic love story as well as being one of my favorite Ida Lupino films(coming in just a few films below The Hard Way). The film is enjoyable enough that you really don't care about the staggering amount of historical inaccuracies. It starts off with rather disjointed pacing but it suddenly gels about a quarter of the way in and really takes off. It has a wonderfully complex musical score by Erich Wolfgang Korngold. The films photography looks great. My only nitpick is that the scenes on the moors are done on soundstage. These scenes would have benefited nicely from some location shooting.
|Ida Lupino and Arthur Kennedy in Devotion|
While I enjoyed the love story elements, the thing that I enjoyed the most was the relationship between the sisters and between Kennedy and Lupino. Lupino understands the brother in a way that none of the other family does. Kennedy is great as the drunk, dark, brooding and tortured artist. He knows he's doomed and so does Lupino. But it’s that understanding and acceptance of each other and their fates that only they share that I found fascinating. Also adding to the enjoyment is Sidney Greenstreet as William Makepeace Thackeray. There is a funny scene when Greenstreet comes out of a book signing with De Havilland. A man says "Hello Thackeray" and Greenstreet replies "Hello Dickens". De Havilland is upset that Greenstreet doesn't introduce her. Greenstreet responds...."I shouldn't like you to get involved with that kind of riff raff my dear".
|The Brontë nightshirt competition. My money's on Ida.|
Turner Classic Movies will be showing Devotion on Wednesday at 2:45 pm Eastern. Don’t miss it!