This is a 1946 film starring Barbara Stanwyck as Jessica, a recent widow who’s husband has been ill for two years and now she is left with two young boys, but the family included on her mother’s side as well as her husband had been wealthy and they had been members of exclusive clubs in the Chicago area. Initially she is going through the finances with Frank, the family accountant and he is an attractive bachelor who likes her, and later on wishes to go out with her. |
In the meantime, she has a domineering mother who is still very present in her life and run’s in wealthy circles where presentations need to be maintained and she essentially wants Jessica to remain in perpetual mourning as she has done for her husband. She takes her two young boys out for a ride to a weekend picnic and on the way they spot some friends who invite the boys to hang with them for the afternoon and while Jessica agrees, you can read in her face that now she is left to picnic by herself and this is just another way in which she is being left alone and out to sea
For sure for her there is a still forming vacuum for hands on companionship and someone to actually do things with outside of the party circuit.
In the meantime, she is attractive to other men and her friend’s husband is quite open in his affections for her but this is just what she doesn't need although initially she humors him and treats the situation with light touch. Her attractiveness however isn't seemingly going to bring a viable relationship into her world and she isn't looking as she is still coming to terms will all that has transpired.
Another couple, real friends invite her for a getaway ski trip to Lake Tahoe in California and while she relents at first she talks her into going.
There she is seen on a ski slope by herself with a problem with a bent ski, and she waves to another skier who comes to assist her and he makes the assessment that her ski is broken and she could ride back with him.
His name is Major Scott Landis played by George Brent. At this point, they haven’t even exchanged names. It is getting towards evening and they spot the lodge or cabin 5 miles away and start down the hill both on his skies, however she makes a remote turn for her hat as it flies off and with the abrupt stop now his skis are damaged and they have to walk back and get back late at the beginning of dark and with that the Major ends up crashing on the coach in the cabin where she and her friends stay rather than trekking back to the lodge in the dark.
They do exchange information including names and her and the Major proceed to hang during the day for the next 4 days and on day 4 she comes back chatting with him about the wonderful day they had together seeing a local ghost town and right there is the marker of how he was becoming someone who was there to share the experience, and as they say, it makes a big difference when visiting somewhere new and exciting to have someone to share the event with right there and then.
But she gets angry when he tries to kiss her and get a little romantic, and where this is coming from is her background of somewhat taking orders from her mother and being sheltered in some ways.
She abruptly asks him to leave and the net of this is he is gone without any contact information such as telephone numbers. In this day and age, they could find each other on
Facebook but back then you needed an address or telephone number.
But these scenes mark the film as to what is going on first and foremost it is not even romance but there and then companionship wrapped in friendship that she really wants and when she gets back to Chicago she has misgivings about seemingly jettisoning the Major for good.
But she gets a second chance when her friend calls her and she says that the Major Scott has been stationed in Chicago for a little while and he is at an event that she can go to right now.
They reunite and she is quite happy about this, but her circle of friend’s object that this is disrespectful to her status as a recent widow and the remembrance of her husband and her two boys see it the same way as does her firm and ever present mother.
In the meantime, the Major really likes her but is non-committal at least for now, partly due to his on call status for overseas stationing.
As her friends object, and it is looking that he might not be around for the long term, this only cements her determination for the friendship to hold and last as she really sees him as a loving companion for her.
She begins to let go as it just doesn't look like it is going to go that way for her.'
This is a genuinely sad movie in part, as Jessica is a wonderful person and the Major is looking like a best friend and the situation culminates when she says with a look and feel of desperation,” I’ll never see him again.” And this statement sums up how she really feels and how important he is to her, yet it is likely he will be gone for good.
This is a rather fantastic film on the topic of companionship and Barbara Stanwyck is just great in this movie.
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