Thursday, November 8, 2012

Born to Love (1931)

In 1919 London, Red Cross nurse Doris Kendall (Constance Bennett) meets American officer Captain Barry Craig (Joel McCrea).  They fall in love, and he proposes marriage.  But Doris insists that it would be better to wait.  If they were wed now, she would be sent back to America and wouldn't see him for the rest of the war.  But this way, she would be able to stay in London and reunite with him during his next leave.  Barry reluctantly agrees, and the two spend the night together before he departs the following morning.  Some time later, Doris receives a letter stating that Barry is missing in action and assumed dead.  Devastated, she accepts an offer from her former patient Sir Wilfred Drake (Paul Cavanagh) to recuperate at his family's country residence.  Wilfred has loved Doris for a long time, and when the war ends, urges her to marry him -- even though she admits that she is expecting Barry's child.  Doris agrees to marry Wilfred, but soon after the baby is born, Doris is in for a shock when she finds that Barry is alive.

I recently re-watched all four of the pre-codes that Constance Bennett and Joel McCrea did together.  This was their first.  And though the story can definitely be considered a bit dreary, the film does have some fine effective moments that make it worth seeing.

Pre-codes often dealt with the sufferings and struggles of women.  Constance Bennett’s Doris certainly goes through more than her share of heartache!  Although some of the situations she experiences are slightly predictable, those are balanced out with later ones that are much more surprising.  And if her performance could have been more subtle at times, it is still one that's both solid and sympathetic.

One of the best aspects of the film, and in fact my motive for seeking it out, is definitely the pairing of Constance Bennett and Joel McCrea.  Already they're so good together, and that chemistry would strengthen in their additional, better works.

♥ ♥ ♥

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