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Hold Back the Dawn (1941), Olivia de Havilland, Paulette Goddard, Charles Boyer

As we are celebrating Olivia de Havilland’s 97th birth anniversary this week, I thought it appropriate to recommend one of her most remarkable movies, “Hold Back the Dawn”, that also brought her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. Her co-stars in this superb drama are Charles Boyer and Paulette Goddard. The film presents the story of a Romanian émigré struggling to leave Mexico for the United States. Georges Iscovescu, the main character, is played by Boyer and the story develops mostly through flashbacks. Olivia de Havilland plays the role of Emmy, the deceived wife of Iscovescu, an unscrupulous man who initially married this ingénue little lady only for his pragmatic and heartless purpose, to get, as a married man, the neccessary papers to go to the USA. But his former lover and accomplice, Anita, played by the foxy Paulette Goddard, reveals to the wife the real interest of Georges, and so the husbands get unofficially separated. The climax is reached in the scene where the broken-hearted Emmy is having a car accident, and George is doing the best he can to save her life at the hospital. The end of the film is somehow unpredictable and the final scene – considered unrealistically romantic – was cut out in the final version. Directed by Mitchell Leisen, “Hold Back the Dawn” was nominated for six Academy Awards, for Best Actress, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Music, Best Picture, and Best Writing (with the enormous contribution of the gifted Billy Wilder and Charles Brackett). I highly recommend this movie to all the fans of Olivia de Havilland and to the movie goers, in general.

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