A Brief Introduction
Years in Review
Films Ranked: 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005
Current Criticism
Search Criticism
Past Criticism
Top 10 Lists
Notable Short Films
Contact Me


Director:  William Wyler
Year Released:  1938
Rating:  2.0

Basically a rehash of Gone with the Wind - Bette Davis is Scarlett, Henry Fonda is Ashley. Unlike that film, however, this never feels fresh or even remotely subtle; the disease that's spreading along the South is a metaphor for much-needed reform in the slave-driven South, Fonda comes to represent 'enlightenment' a la "Plato's Cave" metaphor (he travels north, marries a Yankee, which instantly alters his whole ideology), the last few scenes not only grossly melodramatic, but also painfully symbolic: the fires from the torches that surround Davis represent her being cleansed - purified - on the way to the "end" (an island constructed for the sickly). Every argument between the characters somehow leads to a duel, which makes me wonder how the South even survived in the first place; apparently, all Southern gentlemen spent their days doing was drinking hard, tormenting blacks and trying not to get shot. If you think about it, it's also a little Shakespearian in theme, with Bette (doing a pretty good job for her Oscar) playing the reformed Shrew. Wyler has done better work, and the fact that Gone with the Wind came first doesn't help.

Return to the Previous Page

© Copyright 2019 Matthew Lotti.