Nominated* for nine Academy AwardsÂ(r), this heart-warming, soul-stirring (Variety) portrait of life on the homefront during World War II is a magnificent picture rich in humor and poignant with heartbreak (The Hollywo... more »od Reporter). Claudette Colbert heads an all-star cast,including Jennifer Jones, Joseph Cotten and Shirley Temple, in this beautifully produced picture that gets into your heart (Los Angeles Examiner). With her husband Tim off at war, Anne Hilton (Colbert) struggles to be a pillar of strength for her daughters Jane (Jones) and Bridget (Temple). During America's darkest hours, she bravely steers her girls through heartbreak and hardships as she eagerly awaits news from overseas and wonders if life will ever be the same. *1944: Best Picture, Actress (Colbert), Supporting Actor (Monty Woolley), Supporting Actress (Jones), Cinematography (B&W), Art Direction (B&W), Editing, Music Score (won), Special Effects« less
""Since You Went Away" was released in 1944 and shows a different side of war - families coping with life stateside. The peerless Claudette Colbert stars as Anne Hilton, and the picture picks up with her entering her empty home after her husband has been deployed. She struggles to put on a happy face for her teen daughters, played by Jennifer Jones and Shirley Temple. All three of them make sacrifices and experience tragedies as they bravely endure war which impinges on their previously ideal middle-class life. Into their lives come an abrasive, retired Colonel (Monty Woolley), the Colonel's timid son (Robert Walker, who was married to Jennifer Jones at the time), and a charming family friend who is stationed nearby (Joseph Cotton).
Producer David O. Selznick wanted the movie to be as superior as his earlier "Gone with the Wind." That comparison is a bit lofty, but "Since You Went Away" is extremely good - a top-notch Hollywood film in every way. The casting and acting are superlative, particularly Colbert; Temple is also quite good in one of her few young adult roles. The direction by John Cromwell (father of actor James) is stunning, with a multitude of intimate scenes interspersed with some incredible set-pieces, such as the USO cantina dance. Perhaps the most famous scene takes place in a train station, with Jennifer Jones tearfully biding goodbye to her boyfriend as she runs alongside his train. The scene was even parodied in "Airplane!"
Although the film teeters toward melodrama at times and the movie is undeniably glossy, but the script is so pitch-perfect and warm that it manages to be tremendously effective. The film may sound like an American retread of 1942's "Mrs. Miniver," but the plot is quite different and even funny at times. The film received a number of Oscar nominations: Picture, Actress (Colbert), Supporting Actor (Woolley), Supporting Actress (Jones); it won for best score. "Since You Went Away" is one of the finest war movies of the 1940s; however, perhaps because of its rather genteel tone, it's been somewhat forgotten, which is really a shame. Most highly recommended. "
No Wonder We Won!
J Keistler | Lake Jackson, Texas USA | 11/30/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I respectfully disagree that this is a film for women only. I've loved this film since I first saw it as a teenager. Claudette Colbert was never better than in her role as Ann Hilton; she manages to balance passion and dignity in her own unique manner. Joseph Cotton is unmatched as the family's best friend, so suave and yet sensitive. I've always been a great admirer of the underrated Agnes Moorhead, and she rivals her part in "Dark Passage" with her role as a flighty and selfish man-chaser here. Monty Wooley was every bit as memorable here as in "The Man Who Came to Dinner". Shirley Temple's part was somewhat limited but she proved herself well.
I found it awkward when the immigrant co-worker of Colbert recited the Lazarus poem off the Statue of Liberty, particularly in view of the segregation of American society and the military. That couldn't be helped in this production, of course.
The entire production is typical of the best of Hollywood then--in other words, yet to be matched by today's filmmakers. The richness of the black-and-white, the basic camera work, the perfect sets. It's why I love these old films.
True, this film is a tearjerker. Nothing wrong with that. True, it might be viewed as a form of propoganda. Nothing wrong with that, either. It remains an eloquent testament to a nation and a time when the 'bad guys' were easy to identify. At the least, I hope viewing this will remind all of us to contribute to the WW II Memorial in Washington!
BTW when is this coming out on DVD?
PS--11/26/04--I just got the DVD version--fantastic video and sound quality, all one could ask. Still the classic, still with an emotional honesty sadly lacking in more modern films."
Wonderful WW2 Tribute To The Home Front
Simon Davis | 10/08/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Peerless is how I would describe David O. Selznick's beautiful 1944 tribute to the stength and fortitude of those family members fighting the "other war", on the home front while their men were away on active duty overseas. "Since You Went Away", covers this topic in a sensitive, emotionally charged and at times quite stark manner that never fails to move and touch me with its beautiful writing, flawless acting performances and quite simple message of pulling together in times of need for the better good of all.Planned as David O. Selznick's followup to the classic "Gone With The Wind", "Since You Went Away" had in common with that film the theme of the effect that war has on a family and everything that it values. Despite it's epic size the film surprisingly focuses on a small close knit family unit headed by Anne Hilton(Claudette Colbert in an unforgettable performance), and takes us through the course of one year in the lives of Anne and her two daughters Jane (Jennifer Jones) and Bridget (Brig), (Shirley Temple in her teenage comeback performance). Much is changed and altered forever in their existence through the trials and tribulations inflicted by the war. We see Anne having to find the inner strength to cope with keeping her family together and operating as normal without her husband beside her, while still experiencing the fear and concern for him while he is in constant danger. The financial situation forces Anne to take in a stranger as a source of much needed income and gruff Colonel Smollett (Monty Woolley), joins the household and unknowingly ignites a romance between Jane and his estranged grandson Bill (Robert Walker). As for most families in World War Two the year is an eventful one for good and bad reasons for Anne and her children as they experience the usual shortages and rationing and then receive the dreaded telegram informing Anne that her husband is missing in action. Jane experiences the full force of the hard realities of war when just as her romance with Bill blossoms into marriage plans he is shipped off and killed in active duty. The darkest days are enlivened by the welcome appearance of family friend Lieutenant Tony Willet (Joseph Cotton) who still carries a torch for Anne and provides in his light hearted way much needed focus and direction in those unsettling times. We see Anne develop through the course of the year from a emotionally lost housewife to a woman who develops real inner strength to be able to face the challenges ahead. She learns to become a war time welder and realises by her example and courage that she too can be an inspiration for others as seen in the beautiful scene with fellow factory worker Zosia Koslowska (Alla Nazimova). Priority setting is something that all three women learn during the year as Jane puts aside her studies to become a war time nurse, developing a real maturity in the process and Brig does her part for the war effort by getting involved in all forms of war time activity like recycling and planting a victory garden with Colonel Smollett.As to be expected with any David O. Selznick production in his golden period every department of the production of "Since You Went Away" is first class. Claudette Colbert was at first reluctant to take on a role where she had a daughter as old as Jennifer Jones but Selznick convinced her that Anne Hilton was the role of a lifetime and she won a richly deserved Academy Award nomination for her performance. Jennifer Jones fresh from her triumph in "The Song of Bernadette" is perfect as Jane and the chemistry between her and Shirley Temple who made an excellent comeback in this film is honest and refreshing. Monty Woolley as the gruff but ultimately endearing Colonel had I feel one of his best roles here and his later scenes with his grandson and his work with Claudette Colbert in particular contains some of the most emotionaly charged exchanges in the story. "Since You Went Away", abounds with beautifully touching moments , the standouts being Anne's reaction to the young boy being killed on a training flight, the lazy last day Jane has with Bill in the country where they get caught in the rain, Colonel Smollett's change of heart about the value of being a "hero" instead of just a decent person, and best of all Jane's emotionally crushing farewell to Bill at the train station before he is shipped off. All of these while aimed at the audience's tear ducts are very realistically written and honestly played which is the reason why almost 60 years later they are still as unforgettable as they were for war time audiences. Directed with a firm understanding of the importance of the subject matter by veteran John Cromwell the pace never lags in this epic as we see seeminly real people doing ordinary things trying to cope under difficult circumstances."Since You Went Away", is at the top of my list of wonderful family dramas based around World War Two and in my book is right up there with such legendary films of this era as "Mrs. Miniver". Certainly it contains one of the best pieces of work by Claudette Colbert and once again revealed her great talent. Films such as this which are so moving and memorable even in their simplicity make me lament the current state of much of Hollywood's output that can't come close to productions like this for sheer excellence in execution. I highly recommend this wonderful product of David O. Selznick's genius, the tribute to war time families everywhere, "Since You Went Away"."
Jery Tillotson | New York, NY United States | 01/08/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is a great l944 movie from David Selznick ("Gone with the Wind") to watch around the holidays, especially on a snowy afternoon because some of the best scenes in this classic occur against a wintry backdrop and at Christmas. Claudette Colbert portrays Ann Hilton, the courageous mother of two daughters: sensitive, romantic Jennifer Jones and her earthy, likeable sister, Shirley Temple. Throughout the movie, you see how they try to cope in an America of the 40s with World War II raging and Mr. Hilton has gone off to fight the enemy. The Gone-With-the-Wind long length sparkles with numerous great turns by Hollywood's greatest: Hattie McDaniel as Vadelia, the legendary Nazimova as a Russian emigrant,Agnes Morehead as the vicious, shallow hypocrite (a role she mastered in), etc. Selznick later wished he had filmed this classic in color. But the ravishing photography shimmers in its luscious black and white. Shadows galore, great crane shots, windows always sparkling from rain or gleaming with snow. A fascinating, poignant look at a long-ago America during World War II, where hearths always crackled invitingly, families sat around playing cards for fun (no TV yet) and Western Union could deliver news that horrified or give one hope. The final scene of the Hilton women, gathered close together as they read that fateful telegram is unforgettable. Selznick wanted this movie to outdo his mythical masterpiece, "Gone with the Wind." Of course it didn't. There's only one GWTW but "Since You Went Away" certainly played to tens of millions of movie goers during the 40s (it's listed as one of Hollwood's all-time highest grossing movies)and once you've seen it, you'll never forget Ann Hilton and Daughters as they struggle to keep the homefront strong. By the way, the unlucky unknown actor playing Mr. Hilton had all of his scenes cut out and you only see him briefly as a framed photograph.I've written much about David Selznick in my book on old Hollywood, "The Kiss of King Kong.""
A sentimental, loving, inspiring, and charmimng film of 1944
Jery Tillotson | 07/04/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
""Since You Went Away" was a film that revealed the other side of war. It showed the emotions of the families who had to struggle with, or without a family member going off to fight, and how people coped with the daily life. The most touching scene of the movie, was when the train slowly chugged down the dark tunnel, into complete blackness, knowing that her husband is never returning. I can't really say that this movie will bring you to high spirits (Especially if you're very emmotional), yet it does tell an incredible story. Everybody in "Since You Went Away" is extremely talented, with much skill, although Shirley Temple wasn't as convincing in her role as her other co-stars, and leading actors. This movie is NOT cosidered an old fashioned "Chick Flick." It is a family film for everyone to enjoy. Although the producer of "Since You Went Away" wanted this movie to be just as great as "Gone With The Wind," it (unfortunately) didn't quite make the cut, yet it was a definite success of its time, and still continues to be a family favorite. I would HIGHLY recommend you see this film: rent it, or surely buy it. I hope this review has helped."