Great Lie

Great Lie

Director: Edmund Goulding, Bette Davis, George Brent, Mary Astor

Cast: Edmund Goulding, Bette Davis, George Brent, Mary Astor

     
 

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The Great Lie is Soap Opera Deluxe from Bette Davis' peak period at Warner Bros. Davis plays a socialite who is madly in love with playboy aviator George Brent. Brilliant but bitchy concert pianist Mary Astor (who won a well-deserved Academy Award for her chain-smoking histrionics) is also in love with Brent, going so far as to marry him in a secret ceremony.

Overview

The Great Lie is Soap Opera Deluxe from Bette Davis' peak period at Warner Bros. Davis plays a socialite who is madly in love with playboy aviator George Brent. Brilliant but bitchy concert pianist Mary Astor (who won a well-deserved Academy Award for her chain-smoking histrionics) is also in love with Brent, going so far as to marry him in a secret ceremony. When it appears that the marriage may be invalid, Astor is too devoted to her art to take the necessary corrective steps, so Brent returns to Davis, who is too proud to be picked up on the rebound. While flying an important government mission, Brent disappears and is presumed killed. Davis meets Astor, who had been impregnated by Brent before the question of their marriage's validity came up. Since her first marriage had been in secret, Astor is terrified that her career will be ruined by the sudden appearance of an unexplained child, so Davis, out of love for Brent, agrees to claim the baby as her own. When Brent, who of course has not been killed after all, resurfaces, Astor demands that the child be returned to her, hoping that the child will forever bind Brent to her. Davis tells Brent the whole sad story, whereupon our long-absent hero declares his love for Davis and his willingness to give up the child to Astor. At the last moment, Astor returns the kid to Davis and Brent, and the film ends on a splendiferous musical chord courtesy of overworked Warner Bros. composer Max Steiner. In lesser hands, The Great Lie would have been outrageous hokum, but somehow Bette Davis and Mary Astor (and, to a lesser extent, George Brent) make you want to believe that the story has some resemblance to Real Life. The film was based on the novel January Heights by Polan Blanks, which was not governed by Hollywood censorship and thus didn't have to bend over backwards to "legitimize" the baby in the story.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Lucia Bozzola
Despite star Bette Davis's initial reluctance about the soap opera screenplay, she and co-star Mary Astor turned The Great Lie (1941) into a deliciously outrageous yet emotionally involving woman's melodrama. Bowing to the content restrictions of the Production Code while preserving the original novel's central struggle over George Brent's aviator Pete between Maggie, Davis's genteel Southern heiress, and Sandra, Astor's bitchy concert pianist, screenwriter Lenore Coffee justified Sandra's impregnation with a mistaken marriage. Allegedly displeased with the scripted interplay between Maggie and Sandra, Davis worked with Astor to devise a relationship that seethes with witty jealousy, yet reaches a twisted sisterhood in the central sequences in which Maggie looks after the pregnant Sandra as they await the birth in desert isolation. Smoothly directed by Edmund Goulding with the high style afforded Davis's Warner Bros. star vehicles, Davis has her signature moments of sweetness, grief, and steely strength, yet she also steps back to let Astor strut her histrionic stuff as the Tchaikovsky-playing, brandy-swilling diva. A box office success, The Great Lie earned Astor a much-deserved Supporting Actress Oscar.

Product Details

Release Date:
08/23/2016
UPC:
0888574432539
Original Release:
1941
Source:
Warner Archives
Presentation:
[B&W]
Sound:
[Dolby Digital Mono, Dolby Digital Stereo]
Time:
1:47:00
Sales rank:
12,037

Special Features

Warner Night at the Movies 1941 Short Subjects Gallery: Vintage Newsreel Broadway Brevities Short At the Stroke of Twelve Oscar-Nominated Technicolor Sports Parade Short Kings of the Turf Hollywood Novelty Short Polo with the Stars Classic Cartoon Porky's Pooch Trailers of The Great Lie and 1941's The Strawberry Blonde

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Bette Davis Maggie Van Allen
George Brent Pete Van Allen
Mary Astor Sandra Kovac
Hattie McDaniel Violet
Lucile Watson Aunt Ada
Grant Mitchell Joshua Mason
Jerome Cowan Jock Thompson
Charles Trowbridge Sen. Greenfield
Thurston Hall Worthington James
Russell Hicks Col. Harrison
Olin Howland Ed
John Farrell MacDonald Dr. Ferguson
Addison Richards Mr. Talbot
Sam McDaniel Jefferson
Richard Clayton Page Boy
George Kirby Minister
George H. Reed Butler
Georges Renavent Maitre d'Hotel
Cyril Ring Harry Anderson
Napoleon Simpson Parker
Charlotte Wynters Mrs. Anderson
Virginia Brissac Sadie
Doris Lloyd Bertha
Georgia Caine Mrs. Pine
Alphonse Martell Waiter

Technical Credits
Edmund Goulding Director
Henry Blanke Producer
Robert Burks Special Effects
Lenore J. Coffee Screenwriter
Ralph Dawson Editor
Leo F. Forbstein Musical Direction/Supervision
Tony Gaudio Cinematographer
Byron Haskin Special Effects
Orry-Kelly Costumes/Costume Designer
C.A. Riggs Sound/Sound Designer
Max Steiner Score Composer
Hal B. Wallis Producer
Perc Westmore Makeup
Carl Jules Weyl Art Director

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Great Lie
1. The Strawberry Blonde Theatrical Trailer [3:07]
1. Newsreel [3:24]
1. At The Stroke Of Twelve [20:38]
1. Kings of the Turf [9:43]
1. Polo With the Stars [9:12]
1. Porky's Pooch [7:06]
1. Chapter 1 [:54]
2. Chapter 2 [4:08]
3. Chapter 3 [2:21]
4. Chapter 4 [3:25]
5. Chapter 5 [4:57]
6. Chapter 6 [6:18]
7. Chapter 7 [6:38]
8. Chapter 8 [4:04]
9. Chapter 9 [4:41]
10. Chapter 10 [3:27]
11. Chapter 11 [3:46]
12. Chapter 12 [2:59]
13. Chapter 13 [3:53]
14. Chapter 14 [4:20]
15. Chapter 15 [5:13]
16. Chapter 16 [5:25]
17. Chapter 17 [4:08]
18. Chapter 18 [3:38]
19. Chapter 19 [5:31]
20. Chapter 20 [2:21]
21. Chapter 21 [2:14]
22. Chapter 22 [2:28]
23. Chapter 23 [4:19]
24. Chapter 24 [2:50]
25. Chapter 25 [3:31]
26. Chapter 26 [4:07]
27. Chapter 27 [4:58]
28. Chapter 28 [:46]
1. Credits [:54]
2. Morning After [4:08]
3. Not Quite Married [2:21]
4. Violet Bodyguard [3:25]
5. Tired of Being Your Haven [4:57]
6. Let's Get Remarried [6:18]
7. Maggie and Sandra [6:38]
8. Pete's News [4:04]
9. Wedding Night [4:41]
10. Letter from Washington [3:27]
11. Sandra's News [3:46]
12. Missing [2:59]
13. Something of His [3:53]
14. Baby Bargain [4:20]
15. Cabin Fever [5:13]
16. Breaking Point [5:25]
17. Safe-and-Sound Delivery [4:08]
18. Man of the Family [3:38]
19. Homecoming [5:31]
20. Our Son [2:21]
21. Home Movies [2:14]
22. New York Encounter [2:28]
23. Surprise Guest [4:19]
24. Toast To My Hostess [2:50]
25. Something Between Us [3:31]
26. Liar's Fear [4:07]
27. With His Mother [4:58]
28. Cast List [:46]
1. Chapter 1 [3:07]
2. Chapter 2 [3:24]
3. Chapter 3 [20:38]
4. Chapter 4 [9:43]
5. Chapter 5 [9:12]
6. Chapter 6 [7:06]

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