Thursday, December 26, 2013

Old Acquaintance (1943)


“Everyone has a ghost in their life.”
“Well, I’m a very successful woman, very rich.”

            I have watched a handful of classic films where I thought the story was good but it could have been better if the acting had been better. I felt that way with The Razor’s Edge starring Gene Tierney, Tyrone Power, Anne Baxter, and Clifton Webb. Their acting was not what it could have been even though they were the perfect choice to play their characters. I felt the same way Old Acquaintance starring Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins but in this case it was Hopkins who was just terrible and her part could/should have been played by another actress.
            Kit (Davis) is a famous author. She returns to her hometown where she grew up. Her childhood friend Millie (Hopkins) is excited to see her again. Millie barely gets a chance to see Kit everyone mobs around her from the moment she comes off the train. Kit manages to make it to Millie’s house before Millie does. Preston (Gig Young), Millie’ husband, tells Kit to wait outside and act as if she was just walking in so they will not upset Millie. Unfortunately Millie figures out Kit was there before her and runs upstairs in a fit. She is upset because she thinks Kit is acting like she does not want to see her. But like all women after their blow they make up. Millie tells Kit that night that she is writing a book. She thinks she knows what appeals to people unlike Kit. Millie has everything planned out if her book sells.
            Eventually Millie becomes a prolific and bestselling author. While Millie’s books sell Kit’s do not do as well. They are in New York City to see Kit’s new play. Preston talks to a reporter while waiting for Millie. Kit takes their daughter Didre out shopping for the day. Millie has become someone completely different. She gets upset over the tiniest things such as Preston talking to the reporter and Kit taking Didre out shopping. Preston asks Kit why she is still friends with Millie since they are so different. Kit says they stay friends because they remember the same things. Preston confesses to Kit that he loves her.
            Millie works for what she wants and holds on too tightly to them. Kit points out she is not very considerate to Preston. Millie flips out at her best friend for even saying something like that. Millie and Preston get into an argument that night. He decides to leave. Millie says he should have done so years ago. The only thing he regrets is leaving their daughter. Preston goes to see Kit at her hotel to tell her him and Millie. Kit tries to talk him out of leaving Millie but it is no use. He tells her he really loves her he wants to know if she loves him. Kit has never let herself think about that she says Millie would always be in the middle of them they could never be happy. Millie comes to the hotel later on crying and dramatic. Kit promises Millie they will still be friends for life.
            In 1941 (the film begins in 1924) after Pearl Harbor is attacked, Kit is working for the Red Cross. Preston is in the service. He hears Kit on the radio giving a speech. He gives her a call and they agree to see each other. Kit tells her boyfriend to find Didre and bring her along to surprise her father. The boyfriend tells Kit he is tired of being Didre’s nurse maid (Didre is now a grown young woman). Didre does not remember her father since he left so many years before and they have not seen each other.
            Kit’s boyfriend Rudd is ten years younger than her. He wants to marry her before he has to go to war. She keeps saying no to Rudd. When Rudd gets his official papers he asks her again and replies that he should find someone his own age to marry. She promises to give him her official answer in a few days. Rudd goes out with Didre for the afternoon.
            Millie waits for Preston to come over to her apartment. Kit comes over. Mille asks Kit if she thinks Preston will come back to her since they were married. Kit reminds her that Preston is engaged but that does not matter to Millie. He comes over to just ask Millie to share Didre with him. He tells her he had told Kit he loved her and wanted to marry her but she never wanted him. Later when Didre comes home Millie takes her anger out on her friend by telling her that Kit was the one who took her father away all those years ago. Kit does not react she just lets her friend rant. When the ranting and drama is over Kit tells her friend that she plans on marrying Rudd. Millie tells Didre her decision and now Didre is upset. Kit goes to see Millie again and she is crazy. Kit tells her flat out she is jealous of everyone in her life she has never been happy.
            That night Kit has Rudd come over to tell him she will marry him. Unfortunately he has followed her advice about marrying someone close to his own age. He has fallen in love with Didre. After her mother’s blow up Didre had gone to a man’s house. The man is no good so Kit goes to find Didre and get her back to her father’s house to see Rudd.
            When Kit gets back to her apartment Millie is there to apologize.
            Bette Davis was very good. I liked her in this reserved role. She was not this outrageously strong dominate woman she was a woman who had her head screwed on well and had an over dramatic friend who could not see things straight. I have to say I think this is one of my favorite Bette Davis performances since she was not playing one of her typical domineering women. Miriam Hopkins from her first scene was ridiculously annoying I could not stand her at all. I have no idea what went through the director’s mind or the studio’s when this was being filmed. Hopkins needed to tone her performance down like ten notches she was all over the place. I have seen Hopkins in other films and she was so good I have no idea what was up with her performance here it was just bad. Apparently Davis and Hopkins did not like each other. Hopkins tried to upstage Davis. That is very evident and I guess this is why Hopkins' acting was over the top. 

            Old Acquaintance was not a film. The story was interesting. What kept me from really liking the film was Miriam Hopkins. I wish someone else had been cast. It amazes me the director did not tell her to chill out or had her fired. I can only recommend watching Old Acquaintance if you like Bette Davis and if you have good patience.