“Women have a flag to fly as well as men, Mr. Brown.”
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
Naturally, the film’s very premise is absolutely ripe for disbelief, given that it’s predicated entirely on the notion that a shift from tightly-bound headcap and serious expression to springy curls and gay demeanor is enough to fool a man into believing he’s seeing an entirely different woman.
Yet Stevens has fun milking this scenario for all its worth, particularly through the incorporation of a Greek chorus of meddling old biddies (ring-led by wide-eyed Estelle Winwood), whose sole aim in life appears to be to get to the root of Livvy’s identity.
Set roughly during the same era as Jane Austen’s novels, Quality Street evokes a similar social milieu of (non-working class) women whose only options in life are to marry or become spinsters; indeed, there’s an undercurrent of quiet desperation to the entire affair. Yet the mistaken identity plot keeps it lighthearted throughout, and it will certainly be of interest to Hepburn fans.
Note: Watch for Joan Fontaine in an early, uncredited role.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments: