Thursday, March 1, 2012

To Each His Own (1946)

I am not one to really cry when I watch a movie. I love it when people say “this one is a tear jerker have the tissues handy” because I never need them usually I am a nasty SOB with a heart of stone and I laugh. The only film I can watch over and over again knowing what happens at the end and still get a little teary is The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. I do not know why but that ending gets me every time. I hate crying in films I always feel like such a girl. I hate getting emotional especially at a movie but then I have to stop and think that is the point of films you are supposed to feel the emotional impact. Well Olivia de Havilland definitely gives your emotional side a good punch in To Each His Own.
            The film begins on New Year’s Eve in London during World War II. Jody Norris (de Havilland) is on fire patrol with a man named Lord Desham. Neither really like one another but after Desham falls and Jody saves him they go out for some tea. They realize that they have a lot in common especially the loss of loved ones during World War I. A call comes in for Jody and leaves in a hurry to get to the train station. At the station she bumps into a young girl who tells her she has no idea what it is like being in love with a fighter pilot. What the girl said to Jody makes her think about her own life and once being in love with a fighter pilot.
            Jody lived in a small town in Upstate New York with her father where she worked with him in a drug store. She and the whole town are excited hearing the buzz of a fighter flying through their town on a tour. Jody dreams of adventure in her life which makes the buzz sounds all the more exciting. The plane lands in a golf course and she is one of the people to see the handsome pilot named Bat Cosgrove (John Lund). The poor pilot is mobbed by a crowd of people before he even steps out of the plane.
            Jody is upset she did not get to meet the pilot in person at the golf course but through a twist of fate she gets her chance. The poor guy has his eye scratched by a branch and needs some medicine for it. Father has him hiding out in the back of his store where no one can find him and locks the shop up. From this point on Jody is pretty much in love with Cosgrove and his brokenness of being a pilot which he compares to being a drunk. He brings her up in his plane where he pretends to run out of gas to show off but once Jody says she loves him he gets nervous because he loves her too.
            A while later Jody finds out she is pregnant with Cosgrove’s baby. Even though she writes to him she does not want to keep it until she finds out that Cosgrove has died on a mission. She has the baby in the city where no one knows her but has to figure out how she will get the baby home and keep him without giving away the truth. Her plan is to leave the baby on the doorstep of a woman who has so many kids they will not want to keep the baby and she will go and say she will take it. The plan works until she goes to the store to get baby supplies and the lady tells Jody the rich couple of the town has lost their baby and they have taken him. Jody is beyond upset but she cannot give away her secret without being shamed. Over time she becomes her son’s nanny.
            She watches her son, who has been named Gregory, grow up. Gregory’s father Alex was very much in love with Jody and still is. He knows her secret and gives her pictures of the baby to keep in a scrapbook. Sometime later Jody’s father dies and sells his shop. She wants to go to the city to work with another of her admirers Mac Tildon but she wants to take Greg with her. Alex’s wife knows that Jody is Greg’s real mother but she refuses to give the baby up because Alex still thinks about Jody and does not love her the way he should. She feels they will never have other children.
            In the city Jody starts her own cosmetics company with Mac and makes a fortune. With this fortune she even gets Greg back for a little while but he misses the mother and father he has grown up with for the four years of his life. When Greg goes back Jody goes to London to work on the company’s new factory there and does not return to the United States.
            At the train station on New Year’s Eve Greg has just returned. She wants nothing but to spoil him and have him all to herself but she does not get that. Greg has gotten himself engaged and wants to marry the girl right away but English law prohibits quick weddings. Lord Desham comes to her aid after she tells him everything by pulling some strings. Gregory finally realizes that Jody is his real mother which is all she ever wanted.
            So I cried a bit when Jody lost her baby and it is all because Olivia de Havilland is such a fantastic actress. I cannot even describe the sadness and heartache on her face when she found out her baby had gone to someone else. My heart ached for her. De Havilland won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in this film and completely deserved it without question. This film and the award came after de Havilland won her famous court case against Warner Bros. where she sued them to get out of her contract. She was a freelance actress at this point and Paramount offered her the role. How awesome this must have felt for her to win after her struggles with Warner Bros. This is hands down one of her best roles and one that should be seen. I love Olivia de Havilland and the more I see of her the more I adore her and after this film I can now completely see why she won and why she is one of the greatest actresses ever. She had such a range compared to many actresses of her era of filmmaking and To Each His Own fully demonstrates it.
            The rest of the cast was perfect. John Lund as Cosgrove made his film debut. He was very handsome and you can totally see why Jody was attracted to him. Ronald Culver as Lord Desham was such a gentleman I liked the character very much. He softened Jody by the end, he just wanted to reach out and help her and he did perfectly.
          Edith Head designed the costumes for Olivia de Havilland. This woman was nothing short of brilliant. Even the clothes that were supposed to be from the World War I era were stunning and had her gorgeous touch. Her clothes for de Havilland in the 1920s were so beautiful. 
            To Each His Own could be seen as a heavy 1940s melodrama. But if you really look deep into it the story is so good and so touching. Looking at the story with a modern view can be irritating especially because of the social stigma of being an unwed mother in the early 1900s which went well into the late 1950s early 1960s. I really liked the fact that the father did not condemn his daughter he still loved and cared for her and was behind her on bringing up the baby. The only thing he did was tell her not to let people know that the baby was really hers but he was not mad at her for what she did.
            To Each His Own is a great film from beginning to end. The story is beautiful and the acting by the entire cast is top notch. It is so touching that I am not ashamed to admit I got a little teary eyed.