DODSWORTH (1936) B/W 90m dir: William Wyler
w/Walter Huston, Ruth Chatterton, Paul Lukas, Mary Astor, David Niven, Gregory Gaye, Maria Ouspenskaya, Odette Myrtil, Kathryn Marlowe, Spring Byington
From The Movie Guide: "A film of maturity, intelligence, and understanding. Huston, repeating his popular stage role, plays reserved auto mogul Sam Dodsworth, who retires to enjoy his middle age at the prompting of his wife Fran (Chatterton). Traveling in Europe, the unsophisticated Midwesterners have completely opposite reactions to the Continental milieu: while Sam soon gets bored, Fran aspires to become a woman of the world. Embarrassed by her flirtation with a roué (Niven) and hurt by her encounter with a more subtle adventurer (Lukas), Fran doesn't learn from her failures. She finally asks Sam for a divorce in order to marry a young but mother-dominated baron (Gaye). Sam, meanwhile meets a kindly widow (Astor) with whom he finds he might salvage his happiness. But the longtime romance of Sam and Fran must be dealt with first.
"The direction of the autocratic Wyler sensitively plots a tale of marital problems, middle age, and the Ugly American abroad. Huston was never better than in this magnificent performance of a simple man whose blissful world disintegrates. His effortless acting was so splendidly moving that he was voted Best Actor by the NY Film Critics. (With their typical fondness for showy acting, however, Oscar voters cited Paul Muni in THE STORY OF LOUIS PASTEUR.) Chatterton, too, is superb in a role she wanted to play as a total heavy. Wyler, though, was wisely able to temper this portrait of a selfish, shallow woman with great insight. Chatterton's sometimes theatrical emoting perfectly suits her rich study of a woman playacting her way through life. The low-key scenes between Huston and Chatterton are warm and tender, while their arguments are positively blistering. The support includes gems from Lukas, Niven, Gaye, Ouspenskaya, Myrtil, and Byington, but it is really Astor who equals the stars with a performance of consummate artistry."
DODSWORTH received an Oscar for Best Art Direction (Richard Day). It was also nominated for Best Picture, Director, Actor (Huston), Supporting Actress (Ouspenskaya), Adapted Screenplay (Sidney Howard, from the novel by Sinclair Lewis), and Sound (Oscar Lagerstrom).