Sunday, March 23, 2014

Hold Back the Dawn (1941)

Stopped in Mexico by U.S. Immigration, Georges Iscovescu hopes to get into the country by marrying a citizen. [imdb]

Nominated for 6 Oscars:
Best Picture

Best Actress: Olivia de Havilland
Best Writing, Screenplay
Best Cinematography, Black-and-White
Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic Picture
Best Art Direction-Interior Decoration, Black-and-White

This film was a very pleasant surprise; it seems the screenplay was written by Billy Wilder, which rather explains everything: it's very well put together, with interesting characters and a story that grabbed my attention. Charles Boyer is a captivating lead and gives an excellent performance (curious why he wasn't nominated; it's his film). Olivia is also memorable, playing the role that (maybe) fit her best: the kind, naive woman.
I can't say that I support the ending, but I understand why it went down like that, and I do respect the film a lot.
My rating for the film: 8/10
And some great piece of trivia: The original script included an early scene where Charles Boyer talks to a cockroach in his room. Boyer dismissed the scene as idiotic and convinced director Mitchell Leisen to delete it; screenwriters Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett were so incensed at Leisen for giving in they resolved to direct and produce their own movies from then on. [imdb]


  1. I've not seen this one, but I've heard positive things - even before your review.

    So we have Charles Boyer and his diva-like ways to thank for Billy Wilder's directing career? Good to know.

    1. Well maybe he was just a bit of a diva, but I've heard Joan Fontaine (and someone else too, don't remember) saying he was a very kind, generous actor. :) And we know how writers were/are treated like shit, so that was basically the standard.