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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Darling, How Could You! (1951)

Set in the early 1900s, this is a comical film about two absentee parents (Joan Fontaine and John Lund) who return to their home in New York City to meet their young children for the first time in years. The reason for their absence is their job in the jungles of Panama where they were doctors, perhaps even missionaries.  In the original 1905 play "Alice Sit By the Fire" by JM Barrie, the father is a Colonel in the British military.

The parents arrive at home expecting to be warmly welcomed; instead they find out that the nurse for their baby is overly protective. Their young son unloads his grievances on them, including his complaint that he doesn't like his birth name. And they find that their eldest daughter Amy (Mona Freeman) has matured into a young woman and doesn't know how to relate to her mother. It's funny when Joan Fontaine gasps,"she knows all about life...and the seamy side!"

The rest of the movie is all about the couple adjusting to life back at home and learning how to relate to their kids, and vice versa. I think the film would have worked in a modern-day setting, but it is a period film just like JM Barrie's play (though the film takes numerous liberties).

There is another subplot involving the kids' paranoia when they mistakenly think their mother is having an affair; the climax of the film ends with an explosion of hysteria, and funny comedic moments from all.

Another highlight of the film is when Joan Fontaine plays the piano at home, and later singing a lullaby to her baby.

(Admin. note: If anyone knows the lyrics or title of this lullaby, please let us know) 

(Admin. note, 7.17.2014 - Thank you, Laura, for identifying this piece of music as being Brahms Waltz in A-Flat Major, Op. 39 No. 15)

Directed by the great Mitchell Leisen. Co-starring Willard Waterman (Radio's The Great Gildersleeve), Billie Bird (Police Academy 4) and Peter Hansen (TV's General Hospital)

Spoiler: No one in the film says "Darling, how could you!" 


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this - have never seen this. Will now make it a point!

Tom said...

I think you'll like it Aurora! It can be viewed on "Netflix" if you have a subscription!

Grand Old Movies said...

Haven't heard of this one, but will now watch out for it -- the story sounds like an interesting transposition of 1950s family values back to the 19th century (but Joan looks too young and pretty in the photo to be the mother of a teenager!).

Evangeline Holland said...

I adore this film! It makes me wish Joan had made more comedies because she's a riot--and Mona Freeman is amazing.

Anonymous said...

I am SO GLAD to have found your blog! I am a huge fan of both ladies--Joan sent me an autograph last year and I get updates (sort of third-hand!) every now and then about how she's doing--she seems to be doing great! I also have a personal coat of hers :) And I met the gracious and wonderful Olivia in Paris a few months ago. She autographed my copy of "Every Frenchman Has One," and I absolutely adored her. I would be glad to contribute pictures of my de Havilland things to the site! Check out my blog any time at have some nice tributes to the de Havillands!
So nice to have found you!
Lara (from Backlots)

Tom said...

Wow I'm in awe that you got to meet her; would love to see a pic of the autographs if you have them.

A coat from Joan? No way, I don't believe it.

Yes we would all LOVE it if you shared your memories of your wonderful experiences. Will be in touch about guest blogging!!

Thanks for stopping by!

Anonymous said...

Hi Does anyone know where I could find the words for the lullaby sung by Joan at the end of this movies please reply to Thanks for your consideration

Anonymous said...

I'm joining in asking if someone could please post the title of the lullaby that ends the movie. Such a beautiful tune and lovely words. I'd love to learn it's a full-length lullaby and be able to find a recording of it. I'll be checking back here to see if anyone supplies the info. Thank you.

Claire said...

I too love this little lullaby at the end of the movie. It is also played on the piano. The music sounds familiar, THe words to the lullaby are absolutely lovely.

Laura said...

If anyone is still interested, the music used for the lullaby is Brahms' Waltz in A flat major (op. 39 no. 15). I think the words were written specially for the film as I can't find them anywhere on the internet! Joan Fontaine has such a lovely singing voice.

Tom said...

Than you, Laura.

We've been searching for an answer to this for years!

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