“I’d rather do anything than keep still!”
When the spoiled daughter (Bette Davis) of a failing businessman (Frank Craven) steals the husband (Dennis Morgan) of her sister (Olivia de Havilland), de Havilland and Davis’s fiance (George Brent) begin a romance — but Davis can’t seem to keep herself out of trouble. Will her doting uncle (Charles Coburn) come to her rescue?
John Huston’s directorial follow-up to The Maltese Falcon (1941) was this adaptation of Ellen Glasgow‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, featuring Bette Davis and Olivia de Havilland as quibbling siblings years before their most famous such work together, Hush… Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964). As noted in TCM’s article:
In the gallery of Bette Davis’ “bad girl” roles, it would be difficult to pick the baddest. But Stanley Timberlake in In This Our Life (1942) is definitely a contender.
Indeed, David is pretty much entirely unsympathetic here: she does nothing but wreak havoc on those around her, and the best thing that can be said about her is that her selfish and cruel actions allow de Havilland and Brent to find one another. Just when it seems she can’t be any more problematic, her refusal to accept responsibility for a reckless act threatens to ruin the tenuous trajectory of an African-American law student (Ernest Anderson) who represents everything Stanley (Davis) is not. Thankfully, she meets a fitting ending.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Solid direction by Huston
- A refreshingly humane subplot about an African-American character (Ernest Anderson)
No, though it’s worthy viewing for fans of the co-stars.