In This Our Life – 1942

In this our life poster

My Review

—A Thrilling Look at a Sociopath— 

Bogie Film Fix:

NO BOGIE NO BOGIES out of 5 Bogies!

Director:  John Huston

The Lowdown

Stanley Timberlake (Bette Davis) is a woman who’s never afraid to take what she wants.  Unfortunately for her sister Roy (Olivia de Havilland), Stanley wants her brother-in-law Peter (Dennis Morgan).

What I Thought

Here’s my first major disappointment while blogging about Bogart.  While I really loved this movie, it was a huge letdown for me to discover that Bogart is nowhere to be seen within it.  According to every online and book-bound Bogart filmography available, Bogart’s credited with a small cameo in the film.  IMDB says he’s an uncredited dancer on a roadhouse table.  The official Humphrey Bogart Estate site claims that he has a cameo as a tavern owner.  After a careful, frame by frame, examination of both bar/tavern scenes, I can definitively say that Humphrey Bogart is nowhere in this picture.

Directed by John Huston, rumor had it that Bogart, Mary Astor, Sydney Greenstreet, Peter Lorre, and a few others had appeared in the movie as background players for a scene to add a little “in-joke” for Huston fans.  Whether the scene was cut out from the film, or just a hoax to begin with, none of them are visible.

So!  Moving forward – while I’m disappointed that I didn’t find Mr. Bogart, I made a decision early on to blog about every Bogart film in his filmography, and this film is still listed in his credits!  (Plus, it’s a great movie and deserves as much attention as it can get!)

Bette Davis and George Brent are reunited for the second time on this blog (the first being Dark Victory) in a completely different kind of relationship.  Stanley Timberlake (Davis) is in a committed relationship with Craig Fleming (Brent), but she dumps him in a heartbeat when her brother-in-law Peter (Dennis Morgan) agrees to run away with her.

It’s a wild role for Davis, as she’s playing a much more ruthless, heartless, selfish, borderline-sociopathic role than usual.  Instead of using her girl next door charms to win over hearts, she uses them to slowly destroy her relationships with friends and family, and then to literally destroy several lives.  She’s a liar, a cheat, a scoundrel, and temptress – and it’s truly an amazing role for the young Davis.

One of the best things about the film is that we’re left to ponder one of the big unexplained mysteries of the script – why do Davis and de Havilland’s characters both have male names?  My guess (and perhaps it’s actually explained in the novel that the film is based on) is that their father wanted boys, and they were raised in a house filled with subconscious regret and resentment.  Could this have led Stanley down her road of deviousness?  Is this what hardened Roy’s heart to move on so quickly after her husband leaves her?  It’s not explained, and doesn’t need to be, but it’s a great bit to ponder long after the film is over.

This was my first viewing of In This Our Life, and I’ve never heard or seen much press on it before.  John Huston has filmed a great psychological drama/thriller, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

The Bogart Factor

He doesn’t factor in at all!  What’s the story?  How did this rumor start?  Was a scene actually filmed?  Did Huston find it too distracting to have all those famous stars in the background?  Was the scene cut from my newer copy of the film?  Is Bogart really there, but all we get is an elbow or the back of his head?  Was it a hoax started by a fan or reporter?  Does the scene exist but in a different movie?

There are two scenes that take place in a bar/roadhouse.  I watched them both on an HD screen multiple times.  If Bogart’s there, it’s so slight that it makes no difference.  Part of me wants to argue that it’s probably a hoax, as it would seem silly to get all those stars together just for a short joke.  But if they were all still under contract, they could have all been on the lot, and it might have been an easy shoot . . .

Either way, I’ve emailed the Humphrey Bogart Estate to ask them their opinion, and I’ll post it if I get a response!

The Cast

George Brent and Olivia de Havilland were excellent as the spurned lovers, Craig Fleming and Roy Timberlake.  I thought Huston handled their courtship with perfection, and it was a much more believable take on how people fall in love in the real world, rather than with cinema magic.

Dennis Morgan has plenty of angst in the role of Peter Kingsma, Davis’ wild fling that goes horribly wrong.  I need to check out his other films!

Perhaps the standout of the film is Charles Coburn as Uncle William.  There’s a great scene in his den as Bette Davis tries to ask/flirt for money.  It’s here that we get the crux of Stanley’s tragic flaw as Uncle William explains to her that they’re both cut from the same cloth.  When they want something, they just take it – regardless of the consequences.

Classic Bogie Bette Moment

I’ll give Bette Davis an honorary nod here since Bogie’s not in the film.

There was a second in the movie that I was almost ready to give Bette’s wild home-wrecker one more chance.  She’s standing by her new console radio with her shoes resting on top of it, daydreaming about some unknown mischief.  As the music plays, she subtly begins to dance the shoes with her hands in time to the music.  It’s exactly the kind of thing that would have made me fall in love with her in any other film, and it’s exactly the kind of thing that creeps you out as you watch it here with Davis in such a dastardly role.

The Bottom Line

No Bogie, but GREAT Bette.  I’ll take it.

13 thoughts on “In This Our Life – 1942

  1. Great film. Stanley was so selfish and evil in this movie, I didn’t feel sorry for her when she crashed into that tree at the end. This is probably my favorite Bette Davis movie of all time. Davis does a great job really making you despise the selfishness of Stanley.

    Coburn is a tremendous character actor. He does a fine job in the biopics: Edison The Man with Spencer Tracy and The Story Of Alexander Graham Bell with Don Ameche. They are two movie essentials in my opinion. Sorry you didn’t realize Bogart wasn’t in the film.

    • It’s alright! I’d read that the cameo didn’t happen, but I was hoping to recognize a potential elbow or back of the head! And yes, it’s a wonderful turn for Davis here. I’m not used to seeing her so dastardly! It was a lot of fun to watch!

  2. This is one of my favorite Bette Davis movies, too. And I initially watched it for much the same reason you did – I believed Peter Lorre was in it.

    It appears in just about every Lorre filmography. And in lists of the movies Peter made with Sydney Greenstreet, it’s mentioned as one of “their 10 movies”. Actually, they made only nine.

    The rumor got started decades ago in print. I believe “The Films of Bette Davis”, a Citadel Press book, was among the first, if not the first, to mention it. Since then, the rumor has traveled from book to book and now, in the internet age, website to website.

    On our Peter Lorre site, my friend Stephen Youngkin and I decided to try to put the rumor to rest. We wrote up a question for our FAQ section – “How many films did Peter Lorre make with Sydney Greenstreet?” – and used some screen captures from the “Roadhouse” sequence to illustrate that only John Huston appears in the film, as the bartender.

    You’re welcome to borrow these photos for your site, if you would like to. Maybe between the two of us, we can put things right. Good luck! And I will be interested in what the Bogart Estate has to say, too.

    • I’ve made the corrections to the Lorre post, and am happy to help on the quest to correcting the mis-listed cast of In This Our Life! When I get some more time, I’ll drop in the screen caps and make sure to cite your site! Thanks again!

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  5. After watching this movie, which I thoroughly enjoyed as well, I can’t help but disagree about some of the comments. It seemed to me that Olivia de Havilland’s performance was as real truly convincing and believable. Whenever I see Bette Davis, it always occurs to me that if anybody walked around acting as ‘over the top’ as she does at times – unnatural you might say – they’d be viewed as some kind of lunatic or possible stroke victim… lol – sorry guys – that’s how i see it.

    • I totally agree about de Havilland, and yes, perhaps my incredibly large crush on young Bette Davis clouds my judgment a bit. But, having watched many of Davis’ earliest roles – starting with the very first, Bad Sister – in order until this one, it’s such a dynamically different role for her. She’s been cute and girl-next-doorsy and naïve, she’s been mischievous-but-likable, she’s been down-to-earth and earnest – but this was a really unlikable and villainous role for her, and as I haven’t seen nearly as many of Davis’ films, it was a shocker for me.

      Yet! I can still see how some might view it as over the top and less enjoyable. But doggone it, she’s so stinking cute!

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  7. I’ve never heard it put the way about Bette Davis, but I think mark s is quite right about her being over the top. I’m not real excited when I see her name in a movie I’m about to watch. She was an original “feminazi” ahead of her times. 🙂

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