The tagline for this Dana Andrews – Susan Hayward film on the TCM app is “An innocent’s life is shattered when she falls for a WWII flyer.” (Dana sure played a lot of WWII airmen – this movie, Best Years of Our Lives, Assignment – Paris (former paratrooper)). Um, not quite accurate – Eloise falls for and actively chooses to get into a sexual relationship with Walt, a man she’s super attracted to but who she knows doesn’t care about her in the same way she cares about him. It does feel slightly scandalous for its time, and I’m rather impressed.
Another unusual conversation – Eloise’s dad tells her that he and her mom were essentially trapped into marriage because of hasty decisions during WWI. So of course Eloise doesn’t tell Walt that she’s pregnant before he goes off to war because she would rather he actually chooses to be with her, not feel obligated to her.
This movie could almost be the backstory of Dana’s character in Best Years – his marriage to Virginia Mayo, two people making perhaps not the wisest decision for themselves because of the emotionally heightened circumstances of wartime. It’s also an alternate version of The Clock (which I love) – this film is a less romantic version of that story, one in which the couple recognizes that they don’t love each other enough to rush into marriage.
Two stand-out moments:
- Walt and Eloise are canoodling in an elevator and Walt slips his hand under her coat to caress her shoulder – yowza! She might as well be naked under there but this is much sexier. Reminds me of Joel McCrea and Jean Arthur making out on her front stoop in The More the Merrier – he cannot keep his hands off her and she’s into it.
The look of indecision/reconsidering/seriousness on Walt’s face just as his plane is taking off for his final flight: is he regretting his proposal to Eloise in a letter or is it a premonition of his death? I like the ambiguity.