“Once in a while, when I stop fighting it, I get a flash of — I’d guess you’d call it philosophy. Suddenly I realize that what really matters isn’t how long we live, but how.”
When Mary Scott (Margaret Sullavan) discovers she only has a few months left to live, she decides to keep it a secret from her husband (Wendell Corey) and daughter (Natalie Wood). Meanwhile, she learns that her loyal husband is falling for his beautiful co-worker (Viveca Lindfors).
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Death and Dying
- John McIntire Films
- Margaret Sullavan Films
- Marital Problems
- Natalie Wood Films
- Wendell Corey Films
No Sad Songs for Me could easily be dismissed as a schmaltzy tearjerker, but it’s too well-acted — and too smartly written — to deserve this label. Margaret Sullavan (in what would tragically be her last screen role) brings a level of pathos to her character which transcends the limitations of the material, and makes us genuinely care for this selfless, philosophical woman. Viveca Lindfors and Wendell Corey do an equally fine job as co-workers who recognize the folly of their growing attraction to each other, and it’s fun to see Natalie Wood in a role midway between her appearances in The Miracle on 34th Street (1947) and Rebel Without a Cause (1955). There aren’t any major revelations or surprises here — after all, we know the film’s outcome from the very beginning — but be forewarned: the final scene remains quietly devastating.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Margaret Sullavan’s heartfelt performance as the dying wife and mother who wants nothing but the best for her family
- Wendell Corey as Mary’s unsuspecting husband
- Viveca Lindfors as Corey’s beautiful new co-worker
- Natalie Wood as Sullavan’s young daughter
No, but it’s recommended, especially for fans of Sullavan.