The Constant Nymph (1943)

He tried to divide his heart and broke theirs

Ya' know...I have no idea why I'm still surprised by some movies.  The Constant Nymph really surprised me!  Surprise the first - how good it was!  Another surprise was the subject matter - an (unrealized) romance involving a fully grown married man (played by Charles Boyer) and a fourteen year old (Joan Fontaine).  That in itself was quite surprising, especially in view of my romantically naive view of that era of American life.  But none of that was as surprising as my reaction in the end - feeling sorry for both parties!

Moments of incredulity

Now, at the risk of playing spoiler, and in order to allay the pressure on our sensitivities - nothing sordid actually happened. But there were moments when I wanted to reach into my screen and grab Boyer by the neck!  But really, it was (for the most part) quite innocent.

And the acting was awesome

The movie starred Joan Fontaine and Charles Boyer, and Peter Lorre had a small part!  Interestingly, I also just saw Boyer (as a complete jerk by-the-way) in Gaslight.  I'm beginning to think he was all he was cracked up to be as an actor.  And I should probably mention that Alexis Smith, who since 1940 had bit parts in lesser known reels, certainly made the most of her opportunity here!

A gossamer film

The New York Times (LBF for some reason, maybe Bosley Crowther had the day off) post a nice review on July 24, 1943 writing, "conceived with a deep sympathy and understanding, the Hollywood effort is a fine tribute to the virtues that have made the book endure." 

Laura's Miscellaneous Musings did a nice review, in the course of which cited another reviewer talking about yet another film.  However, the comments were crafted by a true wordsmith and would certainly be a nice adornment here:  "In trying to describe the film, I'm reminded of the recent comment by Jacqueline Lynch of Another Old Movie Blog about an earlier Boyer film, History is Made at Night (1937), that "'s such a gossamer film" and there is difficulty in discussing it because "you risk trampling on something fragile." Those thoughts apply to this film as well."

Well, you dislike the truth. I'm sorry I haven't got the gift for that mental sleight of hand you people call manners. - Lewis Dodd (Boyer)

How I rate it:  Very Good

Watch it again?  Yep

Do I wanna own it? Yes, yes I do.

Additional notable cast:  Charles Coburn, Brenda Marshall, Dame May Whitty, Peter Lorre and Joyce Reynolds

See ya at the movies!

Post a Comment