Rupert gets it exactly right. Poor frustrated Charlotte is left to look after and put up with her domineering mother, the other family members treat her like a doormat, she is made fun of by visiting relations. Even her mother (Gladys Cooper, excellent as ever) does not love her and bullies her - so of course, after the intervention of psychiatrist Claude Rains, she cannot accept the new svelte, confident Charlotte who returns after being the the most popular woman on the cruise (and what a camp fantasy that is...). What though is the nature of those unsuitable materials which mother found when moving Charlotte's items to a new bedroom she has designated for her? Charlotte however triumphs, with wonderful bon mots along the way: "Dora, I suspect you are a treasure" to the nurse Mary Wilkes; and "let's not linger over it" when breaking off her engagement to the very solid beau that mother approves of, but whom she does not love. She will be happy with those stolen hours with married man Jerry, and looking after his unhappy daughter.
Directed by gay Irving Rapper its certainly a timeless favourite, as good as my other two favourite Bette's: THE GREAT LIE (where we have nice Bette with superbitch Mary Astor) and OLD ACQUAINTANCE with Bette at her most brittle with that fabulous apartment (with devoted housekeeper) in wartime New York, and her on-going rivalry with flouncy Miriam Hopkins. Noble Bette sends away Miriam's husband - the man she loves - and then has a silver streak in her hair for the later third act.
My other particular '40s favourite is David Lean's THIS HAPPY BREED, as scripted by Noel Coward: his paen to the British spirit during wartime as we focus on ordinary working class folk, the Gibbons family - Frank and Ethel, together with daughter Queenie and son Reg, mother in law and spinster sister Sylvia. It follows the era between the wars as the Gibbons move to a new house in Clapham, the period detail is perfect as we follow their family life, its joys and pain. We focus on Queenie, the wayward daughter, who spurns the stifling nature of conventionality, and flees. Perhaps Coward writing as a closeted gay man in the '40s saw Queenie as a substitute gay man: forever sniping at the others and being dissatisfied with suburbia, until she runs off with an unsuitable man and is estranged from the family for years, as the mother will not forgive her. Finally decent John Mills brings her home,having married her and Queenie redeems herself and is accepted back into the fold. Its a superior tear-jerker, with great comedy moments by Amy Vaness as grumpy mother-in-law forever bickering with Alison Legatt's Sylvia. Needless to say Celia Johnson is superlative as ever as Ethel - its as good a performance as hers in BRIEF ENCOUNTER. Kay Walsh of course is also perfect as Queenie. Like THE WAY TO THE STARS its a perfect entertainment for wartime Britain.