The Quiet Power of Dorothy McGuire

A friend once pointed out to me that in 2002, the name of Dorothy McGuire was not mentioned once during the Academy Awards show that followed her death by six months. It would have been a graceful coda to the public life of this former Academy Award nominee, but, given the memorable, soft-spoken manner in which she made her presence felt in American films over six decades, it is hardly surprising that this inadvertent oversight occurred on that glittering March night.
Dorothy McGuire, while blessed with a lovely face and natural beauty, never really seemed to fit in with the glamour of Hollywood, least of all amidst the jockeying for attention and recognition by the audacious and hardworking denizens of the movie business on Oscar night. More surprising was the realization that McGuire had only been nominated once, as Best Leading Actress for her work in Elia Kazan‘s adaptation of Laura Z. Hobson‘s then innovative look at anti-Semitism in America,  Gentleman’s Agreement (1947).
The legendary trailblazing actress Loretta Young may have hit the nail on the head when she was asked “Why did Dorothy McGuire never become a big box-office star as you did?”  Young, perhaps thinking of her own shrewd business sense and the often astute choices made during her long career, replied, “That’s easy, Dorothy wanted to be an actress, I wanted to be a star.”
I have always been drawn to something indefinable in Dorothy McGuire, and thought that I’d try to devote some time to an appreciation of her gentle presence in this blog by looking at a few of her memorable films. Fortunately, TCM plans on helping viewers to discover the overlooked actress in the coming months. On Saturday, November 8th, 2008 an evening devoted to her films will  begin at 8pm with The Spiral Staircase (1945), The Enchanted Cottage (1945), Invitation (1952), I Want You (1951), and The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965). In addition to these films, in December among the other McGuire titles to be broadcast on the network will be the Disney family classics featuring the actress’ intelligent interpretations of understanding wives and mothers in Swiss Family Robinson (1960) and Old Yeller (1957), scheduled for December 7th, 2008. Director Delmer Daves’ deliciously soapy Susan Slade (1961) will pop up on January 4th, 2009, followed by two of the actress’ best loved movies, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945) on February 8th, 2009 and Friendly Persuasion (1956) on February 20th.

The 13 year old Dorothy McGuire who stepped on a stage in her native Omaha, Nebraska opposite a young Henry Fonda in a production of James M. Barrie’s “A Kiss For Cinderella”, may not have seemed a likely star, but she seems to have been an instinctive actress already, encouraged by her parents and the coaching of Dorothy Pennebaker Brando, (the gifted, troubled mother of Marlon and Jocelyn). After college, some stock company work and understudying Martha Scott as “Emily” in Thornton Wilder’s Our Town in New York, (seen at right with playwright Wilder and co-star John Craven), the young thespian landed the ingenue role in a self-destructive John Barrymore‘s chaotic last Broadway-bound hit, My Dear Children. Perhaps seeing the critical handwriting on the wall as the unwieldy mess careened toward New York, McGuire had the perception to quit the show, perhaps understanding that making her NY debut attached to this particular production would not add luster to her résumé. Such unusual independence in a hungry young actress reportedly earned McGuire the respect of both Barrymore, (who knew his behavior on and off stage was unprofessional, to say the least), and the director of that show, Otto Preminger.
Dorothy McGuire’s Early Films
Dorothy McGuire‘s breakthrough role came with the Broadway play Claudia by Rose Franken, which, according to those who saw it in 1941, was “an electrifying experience. They saw a pretty, pug-nosed little woman articulate, with something of the luminous other-worldliness of Maud[e] Adams and with some resourceful, intelligent acting–a Golden Treasury of U.S. schoolgirlishness.”  Playing an upper middle class child bride unfamiliar with the realities of adult life until a pending family tragedy awakens her, McGuire was soon courted by Hollywood, where her distinctively natural appearance in an age of sometimes elaborate female artifice made her stand out in a crowd. “Discovered”  by no less a producer than David O. Selznick, the actress found herself under contract to a distracted mogul. Selznick, beginning his involvement with young Phyllis Isley (aka Jennifer Jones), and seeking to find cash for his numerous projects quickly, ordered innumerable tests for the increasingly self-conscious actress, whom he described in some of his memos as believing “[she was] a daughter of the pixies” with a bad case of “the ‘cutes’”.  Eventually, after the umpteenth screen test revealed that “somebody must have told Dorothy that she was moving about too much”, he realized that “in attempting to do a little gilding of this very odd, funny kind of a lily, we might be destroying it…”
At various points in pre-production, Selznick had wanted Jennifer Jones or Phyllis Thaxter for the role of Claudia, (playing opposite–he’d hoped–Cary Grant, as the patient husband). In the end, strapped for cash, and short on patience with the author who continued to insist on Dorothy in the role, he sold the property to 20th Century Fox, where McGuire was given the assignment of the role she’d created on stage at the insistence of the director, Edmund Goulding, who had been bewitched by the play and the original manner of the original leading lady since the play was in previews. Appearing opposite the underrated Robert Young for the first of three times, the  pair would produce some of their most sensitive moments together on-screen in their careers, complementing one another believably as the young couple.  Seen today, the problems of the girlish bride and her architect husband in Claudia (1943) and its popular sequel, Claudia and David (1946), may strike some viewers as a quaint trifle, but, there is a charm in Young‘s calm bemusement at the antics of his effervescent wife and in McGuire‘s endearing performance. Underlying the frothy surface, there is also an underlying anxiety between the pair, an unspoken understanding by both spouses that this phase of their lives cannot last, but might only be savored for a brief time before more adult concerns crowd into their small world. In the wartime forties, I suspect that the radiant McGuire‘s fey character, her confused struggle against maturity and her yearning for it, may have touched a neglected part of audiences’ war-hardened hearts. As Young‘s increasingly ambivalent mix of love, wonder and frustration with this girl builds throughout the film, her character undergoes a believable sea change, assisted by the meticulous production supervised by Goulding. This is particularly evident in the director’s skill in allowing seamless long takes throughout the large single set, which reflects Fox’s noted attention to detail in art direction. With a camera that follows “the actors around, eavesdrops on their dialogue, sits down on the next chair, or even runs upstairs beside them, [the camera moves] as freely as the actors themselves.” Claudia (1943), which, as far as I know, is not commercially accessible on vhs or dvd, does show up on cable occasionally, though I hope that Dorothy McGuire‘s debut performance, and a beguiling entertainment, will someday be available.
While still under contract to Selznick, (who financed his projects by largely by loaning out his stable of actors),  the busy actress found herself working with some of Hollywood’s very best directors. 1945 may have been one of the most remarkable years in Dorothy McGuire‘s early career. Playing a mute in director Robert Siodmak‘s stylish take on an old fashioned suspense story, RKO’s The Spiral Staircase, (on TCM on 11/08/08 at 8PM ET), the actress tackled a pantomime role as a New England girl rendered voiceless by the shock of seeing her parents perish in a fire.  That this well made story continues to entertain audiences to this day is a testament to the craftsmen who crafted its familiar outlines, particularly the work of cinematographer Nicholas Musuraca and special effects director Vernon Walker, whose haunting dramatic and gothic compositions and the psychological use of imaginary moments as a means of escape are highlights of the fast paced 84 minute movie, an example of which may be viewed in this clip. One of the most striking of the sequences occurs when the viewer is drawn into McGuire‘s imagination as she gazes inwardly at her own thoughts while before an elaborate mirror. Dorothy is lost in a reverie as she enjoys a brief moment of private reflection, perhaps as she tries to picture herself as the bride of a compassionate doctor, played by Kent Smith. This daydream takes a nightmarish turn when the girl, observed unknowingly by an unseen man, is seen without a mouth; a vivid image that gives this film a moment more disturbing than anything done by the mad strangler.  The large cast included Ethel Barrymore, George Brent, Rhonda Fleming, Sara Allgood, Rhys Williams and Elsa Lanchester and the innovative musical score by Roy Webb incorporating the theremin added to the film’s overall effectiveness, (with the key assistance of Constantin Bakaleinikoff and Samuel Hoffman).  Perhaps the best moments belong to McGuire‘s character, who becomes a target for a strangler who targets those whose physical afflictions mark them as “flawed” in his pyschotic view. As McGuire‘s character helplessly attempts to communicate the terror she is feeling in the oppressive atmosphere of the grand house where she cares for Barrymore and in the outside world where her “imperfection” separates her from others, a viewer can’t help being increasingly drawn to seeing life from her perspective, thanks to her empathetic performance. Without a word,  giving an eloquently silent performance (until the last moment), McGuire, did not receive any nominations for her role, (though she did hold her own with a disarmingly crusty member of a legendary scene-stealing theatrical family, (appearing above with Ethel Barrymore as cryptic invalid, who did garner a Best Supporting Actress nomination from AMPAS). This film, which may be a near perfect entertainment for a dark November evening, is available on dvd.
Next Week: The Quiet Talent of Dorothy McGuire Part II
The Enchanted Cottage (1945), which teamed Dorothy McGuire and Robert Young again, was directed by actor-director John Cromwell with great care, (and is also being broadcast on TCM on 11/08/08 at 9:30PM ET). As two people who, despite the way that the world sees them, McGuire and Young are transformed, at least in their eyes, by the love they feel for one another. Adapting a highly sentimental post WWI play by  Arthur Wing Pinero, which was written in response to the presence of the mutilated among the general population following the close of the disastrous Great War, Herman Mankiewicz and DeWitt Bodeen, along with other writers, managed to make the story commercially viable for the Second World War. They were helped enormously by the crew and cast, which  included a pianist character played by Herbert Marshall. The cultivated Marshall played a WWI veteran whose had lost his sight in a plane crash, but whose zen-like understanding gave him an ability to understand others, as well as to give life and reality to lines such as “Sometimes I feel that it was before the Argonne that I was blind and that it’s only now that I see.” (Perhaps Marshall‘s real life loss of a leg during the First World War probably helped him to play a person with a disability so well).  The Enchanted Cottage was also helped by an exquisite performance by Mildred Natwick, in only her second movie, who, along with the other professionals managed to bottle old wine in a new bottle for wartime audiences. Young, who was exceptionally good as a bitter young man who had been scarred in a plane fire, has his counterpoint in McGuire’s homely servant, who works in a honeymoon cottage that Young had hoped to rent until his accident caused a break with his superficial fiancee (Hillary Brooke). After spending time with one another, the two embark on a marriage of convenience to provide each of them with companionship. Oliver Bradford (Robert Young) and Laura Pennington (Dorothy McGuire) are surprised to find that their growing feeling for each other affects their perception of one another. Seen through Laura’s eyes, his disfigurement and the alleged plainness (more of a unibrow look sported by  Dorothy) of Laura is transformed into an ethereal beauty.The sophisticated critics from The New York Times to The New Yorker pretty roundly rejected the story as too unrealistic and sentimental in an age of plastic surgery and cosmetics when it was released. Given the long term damage done to surviving war veterans’ bodies and spirits in every war, as well as the plight of those whom the world designates as somehow unworthy, the search for love continues to be a valid subject.  Despite the possibility of going over the top with sentimentality, the relatively restrained artistry of the leads and the care of the entire production supports the emotional reality that this film illustrates. The deeper allegorical theme of our longing for acceptance and that feeling that arises between two people in love, creating a world of their own, were experiences that many audience members, to this day, can recognize and respond to in this movie. The suspenseful impact of the story becomes increasingly poignant, especially as the lovers realize that their “illusion” of one another’s beauty is not shared by the wider world. McGuire‘s performance was among those that, as commentator David Shipman once pointed out, marked the actress as belonging “to that coterie of players—it included Margaret Sullavan, Betty Field, Martha Scott and Barbara Bel Geddes—whose charm is uncommon, elusive. It is the charm of frank, unpretty features that can for some, at times, take on an amazing beauty.”Despite the fact that this film is held in such affection as a “favorite romantic movie” by so many, unfathomably, it has not been issued on a commercial dvd.A Tree Grows in BrooklynOne other Dorothy McGuire film of 1945 that demonstrated a marked change for the budding actress was Elia Kazan‘s first directorial effort for the screen. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (1945), which airs on TCM on Feb. 8th, 2009 at 8PM ET, was based on Betty Smith‘s moving autobiographical novel about a poverty stricken girlhood in a New York tenement in the early years of the 20th century.The film, cast with some of the best actors in Hollywood, including the phenomenal young actress Peggy Ann Garner as Francie Nolan, the scholastically ambitious, dreamy daughter of the lovable James Dunn, a fine actor whose own painful life mirrored the alcoholism of his character, Johnny Nolan, “The Brooklyn Thrush” who was a charming ne’er-do-well, who eked out a living as a singing waiter. Playing the role of a doomed man, unable to support his family, his hardbitten wife was played by Dorothy McGuire. Desperate and finding herself pregnant a third time, McGuire‘s character scrubs floors in their tenement to help pay their rent. Katie Nolan (Dorothy McGuire) understands her daughter’s abiding love for her father despite all his failings, but as the only steady economic partner in the family, she must be pragmatic and even materialistic. Her character was seen, as Kazan said he intended, as “the person who’s obsessively puritanical.” In addition to his dislike of the what the director described as her primness, Kazan said that he disliked hearing the paternalistic producer of this movie, Louis D. Lighton repeatedly describe McGuire as “Angel”, since he believed that term effectively robbed the actress and the character of her sexuality.

The film, which shows this drawn and disapproving woman from the daughter’s viewpoint for much of the story, erupts when the mother’s desperate isolation and loneliness finally tumbles out in a powerful scene when Peggy Ann Garner must attend her mother while she is in labor. Begging her neglected daughter to read her school compositions to her to distract her from her pain, McGuire explains that, despite the fact that she had to ask Francie to leave school to work, she was proud of her writing, and loved her ability to translate everyday life into something special on paper. At this  moment, Garner realizes that her mother had loved her father, and her, and that her “made up stories” might have some intrinsic value. Elia KazanThe viewer is also aware more forcefully than in the painful scenes between husband and wife that had occurred earlier, of the sensual, emotional bond that had existed out of sight of the daughter between husband and wife; one that is glimpsed in McGuire‘s anguished confession to the girl that she misses him James Dunn too.

The plight of McGuire‘s character, which is largely overshadowed throughout this movie by the depth of feeling between Garner and Dunn, (as well as the beautifully realized performance given by Joan Blondell, as McGuire‘s warmhearted, much-married sister), At one point in the film, the mother cries out that she’s never done a mean thing to anyone in her life, but “if she were to die tomorrow, who would miss her?” When I first saw this film, I was overwhelmed by what I felt were the indelibly real situations and the emotions of Peggy Ann Garner as she came to terms with her crumbling family life. As I’ve matured, I think I’ve identified with each character in this story of a family, from James Dunn‘s desperate mixture of regret and hope to the tawdry gaiety of Joan Blondell to the loneliness of Lloyd Nolan‘s cop on a beat. More recently, I’ve begun to cherish and appreciate the determination of Dorothy McGuire‘s courageous, flawed mother. Dorothy McGuire on the set of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Perhaps in a fit of artistic perfectionism, Kazan later seemed to regard the movie with only grudging respect. In his autobiography, Elia Kazan: A Life (1997), he compared the lyrical yet truthful look at lower working class poverty among the Irish and Austrian immigrants, bizarrely and unfavorably,  to French author, Emile Zola’s 19th century screed against inhuman conditions in the mines in the novel Germinal. Kazan said that he felt that the bitterness in the original story of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn had been softened, and that “there was a patina of conventionalism–the costumes were all too clean, and the people were all too goddamn nice.”  Still, it may also be possible that his disdain for the character embodied so well by Dorothy McGuire in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn provided the actress with the impetus to find something steely and wounded within her for her vivid creation of this struggling woman. Perhaps the film was not as realistic as the director may have wished, and all the casting choices may not have been entirely his own, since he was new to the studio, and had limited influence on the production and was constrained by the Production Code.

As with many artists, one wonders if he understood what a beautiful, still powerful work he had made despite the flaws that he saw in it. At least the Academy Awards acknowledged the heartfelt brilliance of James Dunn‘s performance with a Best Actor award and a nomination to screenwriters Frank Davis and Tess Slesinger for their emotional yet forceful script. There was not a mention of Dorothy McGuire for her work in this film at award time.  She was only 27.
Sources:
Behlmer, Rudy, editor, Memo From David O. Selznick, The Modern Library, 2000.
Hirsch, Foster, Otto Preminger: The Man who Would be King, Alfred A. Knopf, 2007.
Kazan, Elia, Elia Kazan: A Life, Da Capo Press, 1997.
Kennedy, Matthew, Edmund Goulding’s Dark Victory, University of Wisconsin Press, 2004.
Verswijver, Leo, “Movies Were Always Magical”: Interviews with 19 Actors, Directors, and Producers from the Hollywood of the 1930s Through the 1950s, McFarland, 2003.
26 Responses The Quiet Power of Dorothy McGuire
Posted By Al Lowe : November 6, 2008 11:15 am

Good post.

Enchanted College always touched me. I never thought about it but it is surprising that it is not available on video. It’s a movie people long remember after they see it.

I recall reading a book about William Wyler’s career that said he had problems with and regretted hiring her for Friendly Persuasion. Do you know what those problems were?

She may have not received as many Oscar nominations as she deserved but she certainly was considered one of the major players in 40s film production. Was she bitter about her loss of status when making the Disney films? They say Disney got them on the way up and on the way down.

Was the film Invitation from the 50s a hit? One of the frustrating things about being devoted to the old movies is that sometimes you don’t know which were the hits and which weren’t. I’m thinking that it was NOT because co-star Van Johnson’s career was starting to slide. He made Brigadoon and Caine Mutiny but I think his other films were disregarded by the public. I think he peaked in 1945 and 46 when he was one of the top 10 box office stars. Brando, Clift, Kirk Douglas and the teen idols like Tony Curtis and Robert Wagner replaced him in the public’s affections.
Dore Schary, who gave Dorothy opportunities in the 40s, was head of MGM in the 50s and probably hired her for the part.

Posted By Al Lowe : November 6, 2008 11:15 am

Good post.

Enchanted College always touched me. I never thought about it but it is surprising that it is not available on video. It’s a movie people long remember after they see it.

I recall reading a book about William Wyler’s career that said he had problems with and regretted hiring her for Friendly Persuasion. Do you know what those problems were?

She may have not received as many Oscar nominations as she deserved but she certainly was considered one of the major players in 40s film production. Was she bitter about her loss of status when making the Disney films? They say Disney got them on the way up and on the way down.

Was the film Invitation from the 50s a hit? One of the frustrating things about being devoted to the old movies is that sometimes you don’t know which were the hits and which weren’t. I’m thinking that it was NOT because co-star Van Johnson’s career was starting to slide. He made Brigadoon and Caine Mutiny but I think his other films were disregarded by the public. I think he peaked in 1945 and 46 when he was one of the top 10 box office stars. Brando, Clift, Kirk Douglas and the teen idols like Tony Curtis and Robert Wagner replaced him in the public’s affections.
Dore Schary, who gave Dorothy opportunities in the 40s, was head of MGM in the 50s and probably hired her for the part.

Posted By Suzi Doll : November 6, 2008 11:27 am

Wonderful article on an underappreciated performer. I, too, am a major fan of ENCHANTED COTTAGE, which reviewers at the time absolutely did not get. This was a movie my Mom liked a lot, and I watched it with her, now it is one that I call a favorite.

I look forward to your article next week, hoping you cover the Disney years. She was terrific in those films and they made her a recognizable actress to multiple generations. Not only did the films attract viewers of different ages at the time, but they are still seen today on DVD, so today’s young viewers are exposed to her work. That’s more than you can say for many stars of the time.

Posted By Suzi Doll : November 6, 2008 11:27 am

Wonderful article on an underappreciated performer. I, too, am a major fan of ENCHANTED COTTAGE, which reviewers at the time absolutely did not get. This was a movie my Mom liked a lot, and I watched it with her, now it is one that I call a favorite.

I look forward to your article next week, hoping you cover the Disney years. She was terrific in those films and they made her a recognizable actress to multiple generations. Not only did the films attract viewers of different ages at the time, but they are still seen today on DVD, so today’s young viewers are exposed to her work. That’s more than you can say for many stars of the time.

Posted By moirafinnie : November 6, 2008 1:36 pm

“I recall reading a book about William Wyler’s career that said he had problems with and regretted hiring her for Friendly Persuasion. Do you know what those problems were?” ~Al Lowe

Hi Al,
Dorothy McGuire was one of several actresses who were puzzled by Wyler’s approach to directing his actors. While his meticulous requests for character preparation and repeated takes elicited some of the very best work of their careers from such stars as Miriam Hopkins and Bette Davis, others, such as Jean Simmons and Dorothy McGuire, reportedly found his demanding approach more than a bit unsettling. During pre-production McGuire was asked, according to what she told Jan Herman, who wrote “A Talent for Trouble: The Life of William Wyler”, to knead bread for hours on end, attend Quaker services and steep herself in the era in which Jessamyn West’s story was set in order to get into character. I will be sure to discuss more about Friendly Persuasion in some detail next week, Al.

“Was she bitter about her loss of status when making the Disney films? They say Disney got them on the way up and on the way down.” ~Al Lowe

“I look forward to your article next week, hoping you cover the Disney years. She was terrific in those films and they made her a recognizable actress to multiple generations.” ~ Suzidoll

Re: The Enchanted Cottage & The Disney Movies & Invitation
Al and Suzi,
Thanks for your interest in this blog and for confirming that many of us find The Enchanted Cottage (1945) to be compelling viewing.

From what I’ve learned during my research, Dorothy McGuire had achieved a philosophical approach to her career by the time she started to work with the Disney organization. Walt Disney, who needed to keep a close eye on production costs for his often lushly made and innovative entertainments, provided the actress with better roles than she had found earlier in the ’50s, including in the glossy MGM tearjerker Invitation (1951), the first film directed by former screenwriter and producer Gottfried Reinhardt, which did little for the career of the actress or her co-star, Van Johnson. I’ll be sure to try to include as much available detail as possible in next week’s blog. In many ways, I think that the work done by Ms.McGuire in some later, less critically acknowledged movies may have been among the best of her career.

Btw, Al, I think Van Johnson may be underrated as an actor, particularly for the work that he did when his big period of stardom was on the wane.

Posted By moirafinnie : November 6, 2008 1:36 pm

“I recall reading a book about William Wyler’s career that said he had problems with and regretted hiring her for Friendly Persuasion. Do you know what those problems were?” ~Al Lowe

Hi Al,
Dorothy McGuire was one of several actresses who were puzzled by Wyler’s approach to directing his actors. While his meticulous requests for character preparation and repeated takes elicited some of the very best work of their careers from such stars as Miriam Hopkins and Bette Davis, others, such as Jean Simmons and Dorothy McGuire, reportedly found his demanding approach more than a bit unsettling. During pre-production McGuire was asked, according to what she told Jan Herman, who wrote “A Talent for Trouble: The Life of William Wyler”, to knead bread for hours on end, attend Quaker services and steep herself in the era in which Jessamyn West’s story was set in order to get into character. I will be sure to discuss more about Friendly Persuasion in some detail next week, Al.

“Was she bitter about her loss of status when making the Disney films? They say Disney got them on the way up and on the way down.” ~Al Lowe

“I look forward to your article next week, hoping you cover the Disney years. She was terrific in those films and they made her a recognizable actress to multiple generations.” ~ Suzidoll

Re: The Enchanted Cottage & The Disney Movies & Invitation
Al and Suzi,
Thanks for your interest in this blog and for confirming that many of us find The Enchanted Cottage (1945) to be compelling viewing.

From what I’ve learned during my research, Dorothy McGuire had achieved a philosophical approach to her career by the time she started to work with the Disney organization. Walt Disney, who needed to keep a close eye on production costs for his often lushly made and innovative entertainments, provided the actress with better roles than she had found earlier in the ’50s, including in the glossy MGM tearjerker Invitation (1951), the first film directed by former screenwriter and producer Gottfried Reinhardt, which did little for the career of the actress or her co-star, Van Johnson. I’ll be sure to try to include as much available detail as possible in next week’s blog. In many ways, I think that the work done by Ms.McGuire in some later, less critically acknowledged movies may have been among the best of her career.

Btw, Al, I think Van Johnson may be underrated as an actor, particularly for the work that he did when his big period of stardom was on the wane.

Posted By Robert : November 6, 2008 5:02 pm

TCM recently screened Edward Dmytryk’s fine 1946 film TILL THE END OF TIME, a movie that is not unlike THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES and actually was released slightly prior to it. While the main focus of the film’s story is on a trio of returning veterans (Guy Madison, Robert Mitchum and Bill Williams) Dorothy McGuire illuminates the film with a complicated performance as a young war widow. There is a particularly touching scene where her character and Guy Madison’s come to the aid of a veteran suffering a public meltdown at an ice rink coffee ship. She is brilliant in this film, both raw and vulnerable.

I’m not sure how often TILL THE END OF TIME shows up on the TCM roster, but I have no hesitation in recommending it. Dmytryk made a number of WWII themed films but his most interesting were those that came in the years immediately after the war – films like CORNERED (1945), SO WELL REMEMBERED (1947), CROSSFIRE (1947), and certainly TILL THE END OF TIME which deserves to be better known.

Posted By Robert : November 6, 2008 5:02 pm

TCM recently screened Edward Dmytryk’s fine 1946 film TILL THE END OF TIME, a movie that is not unlike THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES and actually was released slightly prior to it. While the main focus of the film’s story is on a trio of returning veterans (Guy Madison, Robert Mitchum and Bill Williams) Dorothy McGuire illuminates the film with a complicated performance as a young war widow. There is a particularly touching scene where her character and Guy Madison’s come to the aid of a veteran suffering a public meltdown at an ice rink coffee ship. She is brilliant in this film, both raw and vulnerable.

I’m not sure how often TILL THE END OF TIME shows up on the TCM roster, but I have no hesitation in recommending it. Dmytryk made a number of WWII themed films but his most interesting were those that came in the years immediately after the war – films like CORNERED (1945), SO WELL REMEMBERED (1947), CROSSFIRE (1947), and certainly TILL THE END OF TIME which deserves to be better known.

Posted By moirafinnie : November 6, 2008 5:57 pm

Hi Robert,
Thanks for the mention of Till the End of Time, which is one of the movies I am writing about next week, since I believe that it marked a considerable step forward for Dorothy McGuire‘s maturing acting skills. I share your fondness for Edward Dmytryk‘s movies and would recommend his books to anyone interested in classic movies as well, particularly “Odd Man Out: A Memoir of the Hollywood Ten” and “On Editing” and “On Screen Writing.”

Posted By moirafinnie : November 6, 2008 5:57 pm

Hi Robert,
Thanks for the mention of Till the End of Time, which is one of the movies I am writing about next week, since I believe that it marked a considerable step forward for Dorothy McGuire‘s maturing acting skills. I share your fondness for Edward Dmytryk‘s movies and would recommend his books to anyone interested in classic movies as well, particularly “Odd Man Out: A Memoir of the Hollywood Ten” and “On Editing” and “On Screen Writing.”

Posted By andrew : November 7, 2008 12:40 pm

It’s about time that some light was shone on this fine actress, who blended intelligence and that elusive quality commonly known as “class” in her career. I fell in love with her in “Swiss Family Robinson” and have been longing to know more about her for years. Thanks

Posted By andrew : November 7, 2008 12:40 pm

It’s about time that some light was shone on this fine actress, who blended intelligence and that elusive quality commonly known as “class” in her career. I fell in love with her in “Swiss Family Robinson” and have been longing to know more about her for years. Thanks

Posted By Bronxgirl : November 9, 2008 2:06 pm

Moira, as a long-time appreciator of Dorothy’s work, I commend you for a brilliant (what else?) and insightful post.

Posted By Bronxgirl : November 9, 2008 2:06 pm

Moira, as a long-time appreciator of Dorothy’s work, I commend you for a brilliant (what else?) and insightful post.

Posted By Bronxgirl : November 9, 2008 2:12 pm

moira, I’d love to read your comments on INVITATION, which I saw last night. Will this be in the second blog?

I didn’t think this almost Sirk-like soap opera was a good fit for Dorothy. (though Ruth Roman took to it like butt-ah, lol)

Barb

Posted By Bronxgirl : November 9, 2008 2:12 pm

moira, I’d love to read your comments on INVITATION, which I saw last night. Will this be in the second blog?

I didn’t think this almost Sirk-like soap opera was a good fit for Dorothy. (though Ruth Roman took to it like butt-ah, lol)

Barb

Posted By moirafinnie : November 9, 2008 3:38 pm

Hi Barb & Andrew,
Thanks for your interest!
I’ll be looking at several of Dorothy McGuire‘s later films, including Invitation (1952), this coming Wednesday in Part 2 of this appreciation. The reasons why this film was made may be a bit more interesting than the movie itself.

Posted By moirafinnie : November 9, 2008 3:38 pm

Hi Barb & Andrew,
Thanks for your interest!
I’ll be looking at several of Dorothy McGuire‘s later films, including Invitation (1952), this coming Wednesday in Part 2 of this appreciation. The reasons why this film was made may be a bit more interesting than the movie itself.

Posted By Jacqueline T Lynch : November 10, 2008 8:08 am

Thanks for a great essay on Dorothy McGuire, a terrific actress. Looking forward to your Part 2 post.

Posted By Jacqueline T Lynch : November 10, 2008 8:08 am

Thanks for a great essay on Dorothy McGuire, a terrific actress. Looking forward to your Part 2 post.

Posted By PatrickR : November 10, 2008 10:30 am

One quality of Dorothy McGuire’s acting that I always think of is her ability to convey thought, tenderness and anger, all within one look, gesture or the falling of her voice. It is definitely good news to see TCM featuring more of her films. Thanks for writing about her.

Posted By PatrickR : November 10, 2008 10:30 am

One quality of Dorothy McGuire’s acting that I always think of is her ability to convey thought, tenderness and anger, all within one look, gesture or the falling of her voice. It is definitely good news to see TCM featuring more of her films. Thanks for writing about her.

Posted By TCM’s Classic Movie Blog : May 27, 2009 7:28 pm

[...] Working in movies as well as radio and eventually tv, it was fortunate for some of us who like the guy, that he remained “a featured player” and became useful as a utility player for the studio, (who also raked in some serious dough by loaning him out to other studios during his tenure for 38 of the approximately 78 movies he made during his time at MGM. Some of the best of those loan-outs resulted in some fine teamwork being created supporting actresses such as Claudette Colbert, Shirley Temple, and Loretta Young. Hs most memorable team may have been that which he formed with Dorothy McGuire in several movies, including The Enchanted Cottage, a topic I’ve touched on previously in blog articles found here). [...]

Posted By TCM’s Classic Movie Blog : May 27, 2009 7:28 pm

[...] Working in movies as well as radio and eventually tv, it was fortunate for some of us who like the guy, that he remained “a featured player” and became useful as a utility player for the studio, (who also raked in some serious dough by loaning him out to other studios during his tenure for 38 of the approximately 78 movies he made during his time at MGM. Some of the best of those loan-outs resulted in some fine teamwork being created supporting actresses such as Claudette Colbert, Shirley Temple, and Loretta Young. Hs most memorable team may have been that which he formed with Dorothy McGuire in several movies, including The Enchanted Cottage, a topic I’ve touched on previously in blog articles found here). [...]

Posted By Mike Hutcheson : September 10, 2011 1:56 am

I have read so much about this wonderful person since I and my wife met her and her husband John Swope, in Rabaul in 1975. I had the pleasure of showing them and a few friends of theirs around some of the WW2 relics scattered around the town. They called in on their way back from the Solomons, where their friend, Gregory Peck, was making the film “Macarthur” and John was taking photos for the promotional documents for the film. There was no pretence with any of them and when John wanted a photo of the two of us, she put her arm around me and held me tight. She had a wonderful and gifted life and left many people with fond memories of a wonderful woman.

Posted By Mike Hutcheson : September 10, 2011 1:56 am

I have read so much about this wonderful person since I and my wife met her and her husband John Swope, in Rabaul in 1975. I had the pleasure of showing them and a few friends of theirs around some of the WW2 relics scattered around the town. They called in on their way back from the Solomons, where their friend, Gregory Peck, was making the film “Macarthur” and John was taking photos for the promotional documents for the film. There was no pretence with any of them and when John wanted a photo of the two of us, she put her arm around me and held me tight. She had a wonderful and gifted life and left many people with fond memories of a wonderful woman.

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