Combustible Celluloid
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With: Barbara Stanwyck, David Niven, Richard Conte, Gilbert Roland, Joan Lorring, Lenore Aubert, Maria Palmer, Natalie Schafer, Edward Ashley, Richard Hale
Written by: Ladislas Fodor, Harry Brown, based on a story by Erich Maria Remarque
Directed by: André De Toth
MPAA Rating: NR
Running Time: 95
Date: 07/22/2014

The Other Love (1947)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Sick and Tired

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Occasionally some of the manliest of "B" movie directors ended up directing so-called "women's pictures," and the results sometimes came out like The Other Love, a vaguely interesting footnote in movie history.

The director here is the fascinating Andre de Toth, a one-eyed tough guy who wore an eyepatch and is most famous for directing the early 3D classic House of Wax (1953), even though he himself could only see in two dimensions. He also made a bunch of terrific, snappy Westerns and crime films, the best of which is probably Crime Wave (1954). He received an Oscar nomination for contributing the story to The Gunfighter (1950), and according to legend, late in his career, he worked as an uncredited second unit director on Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and Superman (1978). Oh, and he was married to Veronica Lake. Not bad.

Our star is no less than Barbara Stanwyck, certainly one of the greatest screen actresses of all time. But her role here is rather less than she deserved. She plays Karen Duncan, a famous concert pianist. So far so good, except that she's apparently diagnosed with some mysterious movie disease that has no symptoms but will still result in her death. She's sent to a remote mountain clinic, run by Dr. Anthony Stanton (David Niven). Dr. Stanton makes some moves on her, and she becomes smitten, but he seems only interested in her health.

While out taking a ride in a horse and buggy (?) she runs into a race car driver, Paul Clermont (Richard Conte), who crashes his car, but is so smitten by her beauty that he doesn't mind. He starts putting the moves on her, too, and wants her to go away with him.

Meanwhile, back at the clinic, it becomes clear that women are just dying from the same mysterious movie disease. Any woman that leaves Dr. Stanton's care seems doomed. The point is that, if Karen leaves with Paul, she's dead. To make matters worse, Paul doesn't know about Karen's condition -- she didn't tell him -- and he seems to genuinely like her.

It all comes from a story by Erich Maria Remarque, who wrote All Quiet on the Western Front, and I'm not sure if it's a commentary on the way that society treats women, or if it's actually a story about men who mean well when they treat a woman badly. De Toth makes the movie sturdier and less weepy than it could have been, and Stanwyck brings some class and depth to her lackluster role. But overall, this is only for die-hard fans of either De Toth or Stanwyck who feel the need to see everything they ever did.

Olive Films released DVD and Blu-ray editions in their typically fine quality, but, as usual, no extras.

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