Since You Went Away (1944)

“You mustn’t fool yourself! That would be the worst thing of all. You’ve got to face it, as hard and cruel as it is.”

A woman (Claudette Colbert) with two daughters (Jennifer Jones and Shirley Temple) whose husband has enlisted in the war effort takes in a boarder (Monty Woolley) to help cover her expenses. When their family is visited by an old friend (Joseph Cotten) and their former maid (Hattie McDaniel) comes back to live with them, their house becomes even fuller — and when Woolley’s grandson (Robert Young) shows up, new romantic developments arise.


Producer David O. Selznick was hoping to continue the success of his studio’s previous two Oscar-winning films — Gone With the Wind (1939) and Rebecca (1940) — with this lengthy but intimate portrait of an American household surviving the absence of a beloved husband and father (never shown except in photos) during World War II. There isn’t anything particularly noteworthy about the script, which perhaps was precisely the point: life goes on in mundane ways even in the midst of chaos and war. A strong theme throughout the film is the importance of devotion and sacrifice when faced with deprivation; Agnes Moorehead’s “villainous” turn as a snooty socialite who cares only about her own amusement strongly reinforces this message. It’s sad watching vulnerable (on-screen and in real life) Young tentatively romancing Jones, knowing that their marriage was breaking up at the time of filming thanks to her affair with Selznick; so much for loyalty and honor.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Fine lead performances
  • Nice period detail

  • Stanley Cortez and Lee Garmes’ cinematography

Must See?
No, though it’s worth a one-time look for its historical value.


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