“When someone asks you for your vote, you must be jealous of that vote. You must ask yourself, who is it I am voting for?”
The Swedish-American daughter (Loretta Young) of a stalwart farmer (Harry Shannon) heads to the city to attend nursing school, but is swindled out of her savings by a lecherous acquaintance (Rhys Williams), and finds temporary work instead as a maid in the house of a congressman (Joseph Cotten) and his mother (Ethel Barrymore). Soon she becomes unexpectedly caught up in a world of politics, while falling in love with Cotten.
In his Alternate Oscars, Peary lambastes the Academy for providing Loretta Young with an award for her title role performance in this H.C. Potter-directed film, calling her “upset victory” the “most boring choice ever made in the Best Actress category”. He argues that “despite being a lovely and warm presence in the cinema for twenty-six years (1927-53), she made only a half-dozen noteworthy movies, and wasn’t all that impressive in any of them.” Personally, I can understand why the Academy was entranced by Young’s performance here: her character is refreshingly feisty and independent, and — speaking as a Scandinavian-American myself — I believe she manages her Swedish accent quite admirably. With that said, the film itself leaves quite a bit to be desired. The first half is reasonably engaging, as we get to know Young’s Katrin Holmstrom and see how remarkably capable she is in just about every way; it’s easy to see why Cotten falls for her. However, once the film’s corny political elements come into full force, the screenplay becomes an unwelcome variation on Frank Capra’s overly simplistic portrayal of the corrupt Political Machine; I was immediately bored, and lost all interest in Katie’s fate.
Another minor quibble: While Young’s accent is just fine, why in the world weren’t the actors playing her three strapping Swedish brothers (Lex Barker, Keith Andes, and James Arness) given better coaching for their mixed-bag accents?
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Loretta Young as Katrin Holstrom
No, though most film fanatics will be curious to check it out simply to see Young’s award-winning performance.