Tuesday, October 20, 2009

At a time when many litterateurs were decrying the ugly American, Sinclair Lewis went the other way with his romantic depiction of a man called Dodsworth, a successful businessman who has recently retired to his home in the American midwest. But he's not there for long.
The real ugly American is Mrs. Dodsworth, a foolish, prattling snob who treasures the fact that she's younger than he, but probably not by much. She engineers a lengthy voyage to Europe with its cultured sophistication and proceeds to betray herself by horribly incremental degrees. It's she who wrecks the marriage through her assumptions, vanity and silly aspirations.
Dodsworth, 1936, on Turner's Classic Movies Oct. 21 at 5 p.m., is directed by William Wyler, whose legendary tyranny paid off with some magnificent portrayals, by Walter Huston, Ruth Chatterton and Mary Astor (the character actress Maria Ouspenskaya plays an Austrian this time).
One of the best lines: Astor's character is shocked to hear Mrs. Dodsworth accidentally claim that she is younger than she, though this is clearly not true.
Mrs. Dodsworth: "I hope I look as good as you when I reach your age."
Astor: "Oh my dear, you're almost bound to."
— Lloyd Dykk

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