Saturday, March 24, 2012

Film Review: My Foolish Heart (1949)

A truly heartbreaking film.
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     TCMDb: A young innocent's life is shattered when she falls for a World War II flyer.

     There's one thing that no one can deny about the old black and white films of the yesteryears': They really knew how to make you want to weep buckets, or at least make a handkerchief extremely wet. The best films that are like that were made during the World War II years, or the immediate years following the war, and are about the war itself, or the effects that it had on the home front. Basically, in short, films made during, following, and are about the war are usually really sentimental, and can most of the time get cynical people such as me tearing up even just a little bit.
     My Foolish Heart with Dana Andrews and Susan Hayward is one of the films.
     As my whole Susan Hayward Star of the Month tribute has progressed, I have became a really big fan. I really hadn't seen too many films of hers before, but then when I started to watch them when I decided that she would be my star of the month, I realized what I was missing out on: an extremely talented and versatile actress. I've found as I watched her movies that while she can be dramatic, it's not really that noticeable; it's subtle. She, more than so many other actresses who are no less talented than Susan Hayward, seems more . . . real.
     In Smash Up: The Story of a Woman, it was as though she really was Angelica Evans, and every other woman that was an alcoholic. In They Won't Believe Me, while her character in the very beginning isn't very likable, or at least she wasn't to me, she grows on you; you realize that she's not really at all the woman that she says she is. And in My Foolish Heart, she is the embodiment of every woman that loved a man so completely that when she lost him to uncontrollable circumstances, she just didn't know how to continue on.
     The film is told in flashback, and while in many cases this can be the death of a film, it's not of this one which is basically because you've got about a good ten to fifteen minutes of the present, and then it goes back to the "past" which is for the rest of the movie the "present", and only until about the last eight to ten minutes does it go back to the original "present". (I hope I didn't lose anyone on that explanation.) to put it simply, the reason why it's so easy to follow is because there is not jumping back and forth. Just the beginning, middle, and end which is tied up nicely in a bow.
I was a good girl once . . .
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     One thing that makes me like this picture so much is how well Dana Andrews and Susan Hayward are together. I think they're perfect. He, the cynical man, and she the good girl find each other, and their lives as they both knew them to be individually are changed. Their chemistry is subtle, barely noticeable unless you look for it, but believe, me it's there. I don't care how good of an actor or actress you are, then or now, if you don't have chemistry, it's quite noticeable. Some might disagree and say that they have no chemistry whatsoever, and to that I can only say to each his own.
Walt, I'd like for you to meet Eloise Winters. Eloise, I'd like
you to meet Walt Dreiser.
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    Another one is how real they seem. It's as though Walt and Eloise at one point in time really did exist, that they still exist today somewhere out there. Walt and Eloise could have been our grandmother our grandfather, heck, they could be any man and woman today. This picture may have been done only a few years after the war, and it may have happened during the war, this picture can--and does--still connect with today's audience over the fact that it's mainly about a man and a woman coming to know one another and falling in love, and, ultimately, losing one another. How is that unlike today?
Love is as real today as it was yesterday and will be
tomorrow. Photo Courtesy of
     Susan was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her portrayal in My Foolish Heart for the 22nd Academy Awards, it was her second nominaion for Best Actress (her first having been for Smash-Up: The Story of a Woman two years previously in 1947), she lost that year to Olivia de Havilland in The Heiress.
Walt and Eloise saying goodbye.
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     The film also received a nomination for Best Music, Song: My Foolish Heart written by Victor Young and Ned Washington. The title song was sung by Martha Mears, and though it lost out to Baby, It's Cold Outside by Frank Loesser, it went on to become a jazz standard.
"I do love you, El. I'll tell you twice you don't have to ask
me again. I love you."
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     Now, some may see Dana Andrews as being a complete jerk in this film, and though why he might be in a couple of spots, I didn't see him that way at all. More than anything I saw him as the cynical man who's a couple of shots ahead while the world is a couple behind and is dragging to catch up with him. Perhaps another reason as to why I didn't see him as being a complete jerk is because I understood him: He was afraid. He didn't want to go to war, he didn't want to leave everything he knew behind, but he did so anyways, and just as he had perdicted that he would, he paid the ultimate price for it.
Back to the present.
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     My Foolish Heart is based off of J.D. Salinger's 1948 short story, Uncle Wiggly in Connecticut, and so far it is the only authorized film adaptation of one of his works. Though I have not read the story, or any of Salinger's works, apparently the film adaptation is completely different from the story, and due to Salinger's disastifaction, he refused to let any of his other works to be filmed, including The Catcher in the Rye. Also, though it was nominated for two Academy Awards, the film did not impress critics, The New Yorker said it was "full of soap-opera cliches". It really hasn't fared better as time has passed, but I don't really care because it's less often than not do I ever agree with the critics about a film. Though, much to my suprise, Leonard Maltin and I do agree. I like Maltin a lot, but we've hardly ever agreed on a film's rating. On this one, however, we do: 3/4 stars. I recommend this film for those that love a good love story, and fans of either Susan Hayward or Dana Andrews.

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