» » Lydia (1941)

Short summary

Lydia MacMillan, a wealthy old woman who has never married, is invited by an old beau, Dr. Michael Fitzpatrick, for a reunion with the men who have been in her life to reminisce about the times when they were young and courted her. In memory, each romance seemed splendid and destined for happiness, but in each case, Lydia realizes, the truth was less romantic, and ill-starred.

The poem Lydia and Bob quote at the ball is "The Night has a Thousand Eyes" by Francis William Bourdillon, a late Victorian English poet (1852-1921). The text is "The night has a thousand eyes,/ And the day but one;/ Yet the light of the bright world dies/ With the dying sun./ The mind has a thousand eyes,/ And the heart but one:/ Yet the light of a whole life dies. /When love is done."

The poem Richard finds and reads at the cottage is "Lalla-Rookh" (or Lala Rukh) written by Thomas Moore and published in 1817. In this poem, Lalla Rukh is the daughter of Aurangzeb, the Mughal emperor. She is promised in marriage to the King of Bactria but falls in love with a poet she meets on the way to the king's palace. When she arrives, she collapses but comes to when she hears a familiar voice. The poet with whom she fell in love turns out to have been the king is disguise.

This film was included in the first syndicated television presentation of a package of major studio feature films on USA television; it premiered in New York City Friday 8 October 1948 on WPIX (Channel 11), followed by Baltimore Saturday 16 October 1948 on WMAR (Channel 2), by Philadelphia Friday 22 October 1948 on WFIL (Channel 6), by Boston Sunday 31 October 1948 on WBZ (Channel 4), by Chicago Monday 8 November 1948 on WGN (Channel 9), by Los Angeles Sunday 21 November 1948 on KTLA (Channel 5), by Atlanta Wednesday 28 December 1948 on WSB (Channel 8), by Dayton Sunday 27 March 1949 on WHIO (Channel 13), and by Cincinnati Friday 20 May 1949 on WKRC (Channel 11). The package consisted of 24 Alexander Korda productions originally released theatrically between 1933 and 1942.

"Lux Radio Theater" broadcast a 60 minute radio adaptation of the movie on September 22, 1941 with Merle Oberon, Edna May Oliver, Alan Marshal, Joseph Cotten and George Reeves reprising their film roles.

This is the last film for both Edna May Oliver and John Halliday.

The chorus of "Tramp, Tramp, Tramp" song sung in the music hall is the same tune as "Jesus Loves The Little Children" in the Baptist church.

Telecast as early as 19 September 1948 on WTMJ (Channel 3) in Milwaukee.

User reviews

  • comment
    • Author: Alsalar
    Well, as soon as we see that Joseph Cotten and Edna Oliver are in this, we know it won't be a bad film... it was nominated for best Music in a drama, but The Devil and Daniel Webster won it that year. Lydia (Merle Oberon) and Michael (Cotten) meet up in their later years, and reminisce about the past, which we always seem to remember as better than it was. Edna Oliver is (once again)the overbearing, frumpy grandmother who is very set in her ways, and is determined that Lydia will only be with a proper gentleman.

    Lydia and her old beaus talk about "the grand ball" they had attended in their youth, with the harps, mirrors, and chandeliers, which everyone remembers differently. Then, we flash back to the glorious football game, on which they also disagree. We flash forward, then backward, and forward and backward, and its all a lot of work to keep up with where we are now. It's all done competently, but there are no sparks between her and the men from her past, and its a little like reading a history book. It just seems to be a lot of talk about being in love way back when. Then, about halfway through, Lydia meets up with a little boy who changes her life. Then we find out how Lydia got to where she is today. It's entertaining enough, but not one of my favorite films. Produced by Alexander Korda, who happened to be Oberon's hubby at the time.
  • comment
    • Author: Fararala
    If you can feel the pain and longing of others (and who can't?), this picture will break your heart. Yes, it is slow, even plodding at times, but the ending overrides all of that.

    Being totally, hopelessly (or is it hopefully?) in love, she rejects the stability offered by a loyal, devoted suitor and friend for the memory of the one man who made her blood boil. Although he did not return to her, as promised, she thinks of him constantly and dares to cherish the hope that one day he may, after all, return to her.

    She is an old woman when in fact he does reappear by chance in her life. Pathetically, this is to somehow justify the wasted years. She is trembling with anticipation, ready to learn why he was unable to return to her, his lover, eager to forgive even though it has cost her youth and happiness.

    Need I go on? He doesn't even remember who she is. He was the one man in her life; she learns much too late that she was obviously one of a great many women in his.

    More than a "women's picture" or conventional tearjerker, this one deserves your attention. Just be patient.
  • comment
    • Author: DrayLOVE
    There's no stopping this vision of loveliness, beautiful inside and out. Lydia (Merle Oberon) is a Bostonian socialite with the world at her feet who leaves a trail of broken hearts behind her because of her philanthropist endeavors. But 40 years after her youthful romances ended with her decision to use her money to put an end to human suffering, she is reunited with four of her former lovers as she is honored for her life's work.

    Reminding me of a mid 20th Century version of Brooke Astor, Oberon ages from 20 to her early 60's, although her makeup makes her appear older in some scenes than she actually is. What counts, however, are the love stories in her life, and her discovery of a sweet blind boy who lives in squalor with his irascible mother (Sara Allgood). Oberon learned her feistiness from her matriarchal grandmother (the always delightful Edna May Oliver), a salty old money broad who hires one of the lovers (Joseph Cotten) as her doctor after firing her own. "The nerve of him telling me that my liver is perfect", Oliver grumbles. "I should run him out of Boston!" Oberon is of course ofter than her beloved granny, but she's full of fire herself, especially when going up against Allgood who threatens to soil her pretty dress with slop from her dirty house.

    "It's the one reward of being a spinster. You decompose but you don't change", the aging Lydia claims after telling her secretary when Cotten arrives for a visit, "Take a good look at him. This is how your sweetheart will look in 40 years." The real star of the film, however, is the lavish black and white art direction and breathtaking photography, even more lush than "Gone With the Wind", which was filmed in color. There are more mirrors, ballrooms, harps, sequins and marbled floors than all of the Busby Berkley and Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers musicals put together. It may be a bit much for some viewers to swallow, but overall, it is only slightly pretentious. Even I, a loather of all things phony, couldn't help but be swept away. Try not to fall head over heals in love with Oliver who gets so many great lines, telling Cotten as her doctor, "I'll have plenty of time to rest when I'm dead", and threatening Oberon with "I'll dance at your wedding, alive or dead!" What a way to live!
  • comment
    • Author: Whiteseeker
    Exotic Anglo-Indian beauty Merle Oberon, best known for her great turn as Cathy in the 1939 film version of 'Wuthering Heights', is at the centre of this pleasant, melodramatic 1941 offering. She plays Lydia MacMillan, an ageing wealthy philanthropist who has never married. Lydia and three of her suitors meet together early in the film, and in an extended flashback they, and the viewer, find out why the lovely, winsome girl never ended up with a ring on her finger.

    Oberon gives a very good performance here. She is convincing as both the beguiling young Lydia and the mature, somewhat hardened older version of herself. Edna May Oliver, in a role she would have relished, is also fine as Oberon's aunt. Joseph Cotten is in the mix too, in one of his nice-guy roles.

    It's a very sentimental, shamelessly romantic piece with some poignant moments.

  • comment
    • Author: Steelcaster
    An unexceptionable pleasure to the primary senses of the eyes and ears. This results from a combination of Oberon's lush eyebrows and the pillowy opulence one imagines from a director with a surname like Duvivier. The film is a 'refashioning' of his French-language 'Un Carnet De Bal' from 1937, in that the basic plot is Oberon's portmanteau recollection of 4 past loves. Cynics may understandably dive for the sick bags, but it's a pleasant surprise therefore to find that for all the typical Fox emphasis on visual scrumptiousness, this romantic opus turns out to be a narratively literate affair. It's lent considerable dramatic weight by an excellent cast, including an uncharacteristically unhistrionic Oberon.
  • comment
    • Author: Doomwarden
    Merle Oberon stars in the title role of Lydia who seems to have all the young gallants of the turn of the last century just champing at the bit. But it's now 1941 and we meet Merle as an old spinster woman who is quite the well known public philanthropist. She never married, but not that didn't have plenty of chances.

    Four of her old beaus have gathered at the invitation of one of them Joseph Cotten who was the son of the butler John Halliday in the home where Oberon grew up. Cotten is now a respectable physician and the others he's invited are George Reeves a nightclub owner, Hans Jaray a blind concert pianist, and a sea captain Alan Marshal.

    Merle loved them all in her own way, but couldn't quite commit to any of them. All of them saw a different Merle in their salad days.

    I'm thinking that the film lost a great deal in translation from the original French movie Dance Program which was also directed by Julian Duvivier. It would almost have to be the case given the far stricter censorship that we had as opposed to the French.

    Lydia is entertaining and good enough and the cast performs their roles well. But the film is a bland romantic concoction, I'll bet the original French is much better.
  • comment
    • Author: Nuadazius
    Here Oberon shines. The story is slight, yet gives Oberon time to revel in the Ben Hecht/Samuel Hoffenstein dialogue. Oberon plays Lydia, a woman who is searching for love. The film is framed by a reunion, with Lydia as an old woman. She is reunited with the four fellows that have chased her throughout her life. All four actors do their best with their roles, but none standout. They mostly just stare longingly at Oberon for the duration of the film. None are given much consideration or motivation other than as a lovers for Oberon can push around.

    Other than Oberon, Julien Duvivier, the director, is the real star. His direction makes the most out of the simple plot. Certain scenes stick out more than others. The scene when Michael (Joseph Cotten) and Lydia run into the ball of Lydia's imagination, in slow-motion is very memorable for its dream-like feel. Also, when Frank (Hans Jaray), the blind pianist plays for the blind children, the scene is framed very beautifully. Also Miklos Rozsa's Oscar-nominated score is very good.

    A pretty good drama that suffers from a necessary but clumsy framing device with the reunion, as well as a third act that doesn't jell well with the rest of the film.
  • comment
    • Author: Zacki
    Right off the bat, I need to tell you that the makeup used to make Merle Oberon, Joseph Cotton, and George Reeves old as they narrate this tale, is atrocious. On the other hand, the brief ballroom scene early on in the film is exquisitely beautiful. The portion of the story regarding Lydia's work with blind children is quite charming. A brief sleigh race is quite well done. And yet, despite these sporadic highlights, this film doesn't quite come together. I kept thinking that more competent screen writing could have done wonders with putting the chapters of the story together in a more coherent manner.

    Joseph Cotton was a fine, underrated actor, and he is wonderfully pleasant in this film. Merle Oberon was -- in some films -- remarkably beautiful. I say that in that way because in this film you will see her beauty in some scenes, but in other scenes -- providing you are aware of her biography -- you will see her face and truly wonder what her true heritage was.

    This film benefits greatly from the presence of a wonderful female character actor -- Edna May Oliver. What a gem! And for once she got the billing she deserved...second in this film only to Merle Oberon. And, in this film you get to see George Reeves (later to play television's Superman) in a more substantial role than he had in most other films.

    Despite my criticisms of this film, I never once was tempted to turn it off. It was ALMOST a great film.
  • comment
    • Author: Sarin
    When the film was finally released in Duvivier's native France ,it did not meet critical favor.I personally find little fault with the opinions expressed."Lydia" is a confused cold work.Duvivier's great American movies are not "Great Waltz" or "Lydia" .They were yet to come:"tales of Manhattan" and "Flesh and fantasy" are immensely superior to the aforementioned efforts.

    "Lydia" is supposed to be a remake of "Un Carnet de Bal ",Duvivier's indisputable masterpiece.But the two works are worlds apart.I would go as far as to write "Lydia" is to "Carnet de Bal" what "The long night" is to "Le jour se lève" .But Carné's chef d'oeuvre was remade by Anatole Litvak whereas Duvivier redid himself.

    Actually "Lydia" reminds me of Duvivier failed film "Untel Père Et Fils " ;it's a hodgepodge : a grumpy granny with a golden heart, a sailor ,the Civil War(?) , a blind pianist ,the sad fate of blind children during the nineteenth century, the good lady whose life is not empty cause she creates a house for these unfortunate kids (a permanent feature of the French cinema of the era : see also "Le Voile Bleu"-remade as "the blue veil" - and "Péchés de Jeunesse").

    Nothing is left from the original work,the Madeleine of Proust of the French cinema: and showing Merle Oberon with her three beaus (and the fourth is not far away)does not make up for Marie Bell's spleen,solitude and nostalgia on the banks of the lake.One should also add that the male characters are not really interesting.

    Orson Welles was a great Duvivier fan and it's probably the reason why Joseph Cotten is part of the cast.Later,Welles would borrow the female star of "Au Royaume des Cieux" (Suzanne Cloutier) from Duvivier for his "Othello".

    The best of this movie is its pictures:the ball is nicely filmed ,although a bit kitsch;the snowy landscapes are enhanced by a refined cinematography.

    The sound of my copy is rather lousy. The music ,which is intrusive,often drowns out the actors' voices.
  • comment
    • Author: Mautaxe
    When is a remake not a remake is one that will keep the pedants occupied long past my own bedtime and on the whole I'm content to let them pick the bones out of it whilst I savor and/or am disappointed by the latest example to find itself on a screen near me. You could argue that one of the clues is when a remake retains the Original title, Kiss Of Death, Ocean's Eleven, The Manchurian Candidate etc but then along comes The Ladykillers, which retains both title and approximate plot of the Ealing entry but then moves the action several thousand miles West by several decades forward leading pedants back to Square One. When they change not only the country but also the title the additional factors that come into play are 1) are you, as a viewer, aware of this situation and 2) have you seen the original. I suspect that anyone who saw Julien Duvivier's magnum opus Un Carnet de bal will be disappointed, to say the least, with Lydia which he made four years later (1941) in Hollywood, whilst those who never saw, or perhaps have never heard of Un Carnet de bal, will find Lydia vastly enjoyable - it is, after all, the work of a Great director, albeit one saddled with a 'revised' script that tends to turn the original on its head. For the record Un Carnet de bal featured a recently widowed lady who, more or less on a whim, decides to trace the men with whom she danced at her very first ball as a teenager and is, inevitably, disappointed at what she discovers. The action was, then, set largely in the present with an elderly lady encountering elderly men; this time around the lady in question is a spinster and is reminiscing with three of her old beaux in the present which means that, by definition, the bulk of the film is flashbacks to forty years earlier. Those with no knowledge of Un Carnet de bal will relish the initial ball scene with shades of both Max Ophuls in the swirling camera and Busby Berkely in the phalanx of art deco lady harpists, and the lush score by Miklos Rosza whilst those who have seen Carnet will feel keenly the absence of Louis Jouvet, Fernandel etc and gaze open-mouthed at the hopelessly inadequate substitutes of whom only Joseph Cotton makes even a half-decent fist. Mixed feelings then; on the one hand it's still a Duvivier movie, on the other, there's only ONE Un Carnet de bal.
  • comment
    • Author: Ylal
    It is almost 20 years ago, I saw this movie at TV.. and it still break my heart now.. Very touching. The ending is so unforgettable.. I could clearly remember the story, and the ENDING.. so sad, Lydia is so lovely.. and she was not the only one who suffer, but also her admirers.. obviously wasting years in reaching out for love!? What is love? Did Lydia sure that she is in love with that guy? She don't even know him.. they just get together for such a short time.. well, it is very romantic.. and that is why I still remember this movie, and want to see that again.. but as I grew older.. it is not romantic to me anymore.. but still she still break my heart, cos I think it is quite hard to find someone who could so insist in love or.. her own belief? What am I talking about?
  • comment
    • Author: Ventelone
    Merle Oberon (Lydia) is invited to a reunion where 3 of her former suitors are waiting to meet her once more. Everyone is now old and the 3 men - scientist Joseph Cotten (Michael), blind pianist Hans Jaray (Frank) and sporty George Reeves (Bob) - are dying to find out why she never entertained any of them. The reason is that there was a 4th man - sailor Alan Marshal (Richard) - who Lydia was always in love with and he arrives at the end of the film and delivers a bombshell. Before this, Merle Oberon recounts the story of her life during the time that they all knew her. The film is told in flashback and wrapped up with Alan Marshal's arrival.

    It sounds interesting but it's not. Unfortunately, the cast are terrible. Merle Oberon is annoying and I'm afraid that we are just not interested in her life at all. This makes the whole film quite tedious as we just don't care about what happens in her love live. The story introduces four other bland characters - Cotten is likable but dull - Jaray is sickly sentimentally blind and so we have to have a rubbish boring section about blind kids which will make you want to heave with it's political correctness (although at least in those days blind children went to a special school for the blind instead of being integrated into a classroom with sighted children) - Reeves plays for comedy and is terrible at it. He's just not funny at all - and Marshal is both bland and blind (to love).

    The story is further ruined by a soundtrack that has been turned up disproportionally high so that every time there is any music or sound effects, the audience can't hear the dialogue as it is completely drowned out. As a result there are many complete sections that we can't hear and therefore we cant follow the plot. Who the hell let this go through! We hear more of people's footsteps than actual talking.

    A final word goes to the ghastly idea of making everyone look old. We have 5 gruesome looking characters who are all impossible to identify with coz they look like freaks, and Merle Oberon makes the fatal error of thinking that she can act old by shaking her head a lot every time she speaks coz that's what old people do. What a ham.

    The only good thing about this film is Edna May Oliver (Lydia's grandmother) who does provide some comic moments. If you like this film, you are a very boring person. It's sh*t.
  • comment
    • Author: Mushicage
    Associate producer: Lee Garmes. Producer: Alexander Korda. Copyright 12 September 1941 by Alexander Korda Films, Inc. An Alexander Korda Production, released through United Artists. New York opening at the Radio City Music Hall: 18 September 1941 (ran 2 weeks). U.S. release: 26 September 1941. U.K. release: 16 February 1942. Australian release: 16 April 1942. Running times: 104 minutes (USA), 98 minutes (UK & Aust).

    NOTES: A partial re-make of Duvivier's own 1937 Un Carnet de Bal which starred Marie Bell, Francoise Rosay, Harry Baur, Pierre Blanchar, Fernandel, Louis Jouvet and Raimu.

    Rozsa was nominated for an Academy Award for his Music Scoring but lost out to Bernard Herrmann's All That Money Can Buy.

    Despite producer Korda's efforts to showcase his wife by employing some of the finest technical talents available in 1941 Hollywood, the movie was not a financial success, barely recovering its expensive production costs.

    Last film of John Halliday. (He died in Honolulu on 17 October 1947).

    COMMENT: A wonderfully Gallic tale, full of ironies and surprises, stylishly embellished with some of the most lustrously photographed images we have ever seen. The sets too are absolute marvels of tasteful extravagance, and there's a hauntingly evocative music score by Miklos Rozsa. In short, on the technical side, just about everything needed for a movie masterpiece: a promisingly novel and potentially entertaining idea, a producer with money and acumen, a director with flair and imagination, a set designer of extraordinary intelligence and sweep, and a cameraman of such expertise and skill that the movie is always inventively lit through the eyes of both beauty and atmosphere.

    Despite some most enjoyable set-pieces - including a contrast between Oberon's first ball as she romantically remembers it and as it actually was; and a rousing rendition of "Tramp, Tramp, Tramp" at Tony Pastor's Saloon, complete with singing waiters, a comic tenor, a be-tighted chorus and jostlingly enthusiastic patrons, all filmed in one crowded take as the camera pans from the stage to Oberon's back table - the movie comes slightly unstuck in its script and its cast.

    Mrs Alexander Korda enacts the title role, which gives her not only the lion's share of the action but an off-camera commentary as well. Unfortunately she is something of a chatterbox. She never stops talking. This makes her characterization rather wearying. It's true that a man can put up with a foolish, chattering woman if he finds her attractive, so your enjoyment of Lydia will largely depend on whether you're an Oberon fan or otherwise.

    It would be a pity to miss Lydia on Oberon's account, because it has so many other good things going for it, not least a very credible performance by that much-maligned actor George Reeves as a boorish football player. And of course any movie with John Halliday is always worth seeing, even when his role is fairly small as here. Many would say the same about Edna May Oliver. And I thought Alan Marshal was adequate, particularly if we remember that all but his last entrance portray Oberon's vision of him, which was certainly a long way from the Richard Mason of reality.

    In short, a most interesting and fascinating movie which, despite its shortcomings, doesn't seem to deserve its current neglect.
  • comment
    • Author: Wnex
    "Lydia" from 1941 is a remake of Jacques Duvivier's 1937 'Un Carnet De Bal.' It retains the same plot and here is remade by Duvivier himself.

    Lydia MacMillan (Merle Oberon) is an old but still vital single woman who is visited by four ex-suitors: Michael (Joseph Cotton), Hans (Frank Andre), and Bob (George Reeves) who reminisce with her about the old days and how much they all loved her and wanted to marry her, and how, one way or another, it just didn't work out.

    It turns out that Lydia, from a good Boston family, only had one great love, Richard (Alan Marshal), who, after a few days together (during which I think we are to assume she lost her virginity) takes off in his boat. He leaves her a "Dear Jane" letter, stating that he'll be back after he clears things up with a woman who "has a claim on him." He gives her his grandmother's wedding ring and says he will keep sending her rings until he returns. She hears from him sporadically but she never sees him again.

    She can really never let go of her love for him, so she remains single, and devotes herself to her work with blind children, who attend a school she set up.

    In 'Un Carnet de Bal," the character is widowed and wonders how her life would have been had she married the other men who were in love with her, the men who danced with her one night that changed her life forever.

    The angle of "Lydia" is a little different and probably a little deeper. But it's still a film about nostalgia, youth, and disenchantment.

    Edna Mae Oliver plays Lydia's grandmother, and she's wonderful in this, her last film. She died the following year at the age of 59. People probably thought she was 75.

    Merle Oberon gives a lovely performance as Lydia, both as a young woman reveling in her beautiful gown, dancing, and being young, and as an older woman reminiscing. She tells each of the men that none of her really loved her because they never knew her; Michael loved "an angel," Hans, the blind composer/pianist she meets loved "the blond, blue eyed girl" described to him by a child whom he asked to describe Lydia and instead, she describes her doll; and Bob loved the young, wild thing that was ready to elope with him. Richard was the only man who truly knew her, and with him, she was herself. Or so she believes.

    Duvivier did the best he could with this Americanized version, but it can't live up to 'Un Carnet De Bal' with its French sensibility.

    Nevertheless, pleasant and worth seeing. A bittersweet story of a woman looking back on her life. We all do it at some point.
  • comment
    • Author: Adokelv
    Merle Oberon was wonderful here as the spinster who 40 years later meets with the men in her life and dutifully explains why marriage was out of the question with each of them. Did anyone notice that when she spoke as an older woman, she sounded just like Bette Davis when the latter played older parts as well.

    In what turned out to be her final film, Edna May Oliver was in perfect form as her cantankerous grandmother, still with a heart of gold only because of her humble beginnings before she married into wealth.

    Too bad that the film didn't concentrate a little more with Lydia's work with orphaned and blind children. The scenes depicting the children were certainly poignant.
  • comment
    • Author: watchman
    Intriguing plot about an old woman (Merle Oberon) reflecting on her youth, although the result is imperfect. The dramatics are the film's weak spot, as the plot is a quite contrived, especially concerning the orphanage for blind children.

    The camera framing and cinematography display flashes of technical ingenuity at various points throughout the film, such as when Lydia and a local fisherman share a conversation against the backdrop of a fireplace. An early flashback's evocations of the bliss and idyllic nature of memories offer a remarkably fresh take on nostalgia. Sadly, these flashes of creative ingenuity are few and far between, and

    Oberon, who I've never been a huge fan of, is very touching and insightful while playing the older Lydia. Ruminative and able to find humor in the way her life has unfolded, she does a great job of reflecting on her life as an extremely successful woman who has sacrificed romance in her path to greatness. Unfortunately, she relapses to her usual shrill gracelessness for much of her performance as the younger Lydia, making her performance a wash on the whole.

    Edna May Oliver, in her final film performance, is a joy to behold in a signature tough-as- nails New England spinster role. She's hilarious (as usual) and oftentimes touching. The other supporting actors are uniformly dull and uninspiring, including Joseph Cotten, who I normally love, as one of Lydia's former loves.

    Overall, the film isn't as poignant and insightful as it might have been, given the storyline, which is disappointing. It's not exactly memorable outside of Oliver's performance, although it's not the worst movie I've seen and worth a viewing.
  • comment
    • Author: Elizabeth
    Cast member who failed to be mentioned in the credits of Lydia, was the great Gertrude Hoffman, best known for her portrayal of Mrs. Odetts in My Little Margie. I saw the show many times as a kid growing up in the 50's and 60's. The scene in Lydia occurs when Lydia (portrayed by Merle Oberon) and her fiancée Robert (portrayed by George Reeves) apply for a room for their wedding night. The landlady is Gretrude Hoffman. (Merle later decides not to marry Robert, as he was drinking heavily). I am pretty certain that the landlady was Gertrude. She has appeared in a number of films, including Foreign Correspondent. I also noticed that Footlight Glamour with Penny Singleton and Arthur Lake had a lady in the cast who resembled and spoke like Gertrude, but was listed on INDb as Elspeth Dudgeon, who appeared in The Old Dark House. This is a mystery to me, as she looks exactly like the lady from Foreign Correspondent and My Little Margie!
  • comment
    • Author: Kage
    It's always a pleasure to discover a long neglected film, usually found in old bad copies, with the gratifying opportunity to bring attention to a forgotten masterpiece. "Lydia" is such a film, written and directed by Julien Duvivier with some help by Ben Hecht, featuring Merle Oberon at her best with her wooers Joseph Cotten, Alan Marshal and a few others, accompanied by spellbinding music of Miklos Rosza's, and in addition to all this with the last performance of Edna May Oliver with an exit crowning her accomplishments. The question is what is best with this film, which has so many different aspects and sides to it. Is it the great story of an adorable beauty who decides to remain a virgin all her life dedicated solely to helping blind children? Is it the important part of the music, in long eloquent sequences presented by Hans Jaray as the blind pianist, another of her wooers? Is it her fascinating personality so virtuously exposed throughout by mainly the voice of Merle Oberon in her old age? Is it the deeply romantic love affair with its extraordinary passion? Is it the great flow of the film in high tempo and dazzling dialogue all the way with beautiful photography at that? It's all this and much more. This is a great love story of a totally different kind to what we are used to, something totally out of the ordinary, and as such it's a story and film for all times and ages and all generations. This is a film to study and to be learned from, especially for those interested in the enigmatic nature of any woman.
  • comment
    • Author: PC-rider
    After dedicating a home for blind and crippled children, doddering old Merle Oberon (as Lydia MacMillan), who never married, attends a surprise gathering of her old boyfriends. The reunion is arranged by physician Joseph Cotten (as Michael Fitzpatrick). The son of Ms. Oberon's family butler, Mr. Cotten has also invited blind musician Hans Jaray (as Frank Andre) and future "Superman" George Reeves (as Bill Willard). A fourth beau, seafaring adventurer Alan Marshal (as Richard Mason) may or may not appear. He is one of the story's mysteries, so stay tuned. Oberon and her old suitors reminisce about their romances, in flashbacks beginning in 1897, when "the prettiest girl in Boston" was a desirable young maiden...

    "Lydia" is a re-make of director Julien Duvivier's "Un carnet de bal" (1937), re-fashioned entirely for star Merle Oberon by producer Alexander Korda. The original French export was a worldwide hit, with Mr. Duvivier and his remarkable original players receiving much critical acclaim. There are some significant changes in the story, but they do improve the central played by Mrs. Korda (Oberon). She is the reason for the picture, clearly. An impressive group was hired for this motion picture; their skills are intermittently evident, but the totality of the film is far too pretentious...

    Watch "Lydia" for the production values and moments of perfection. You'll find much of the latter in the work of supporting actress Edna May Oliver (as Sarah "Granny" MacMillan). This was the last appearance of Ms. Oliver, a classic character actress who became the most valuable player nearly every time she appeared on screen. Oliver's character appears in the flashbacks, as Oberon's wealthy and outspoken grandmother. She complains about mysterious internal ailments, but is considered a hypochondriac. The veteran actress died in 1942, of internal ailments. In real life, Oliver passed away peacefully in her sleep. On screen, she plays her expiration scene with Shakespearian majesty. This is how it should be done.

    ****** Lydia (9/18/41) Julien Duvivier ~ Merle Oberon, Joseph Cotten, Edna May Oliver, Alan Marshal
  • comment
    • Author: Frostdefender
    The film begins in the present day. Several of Lydia's old suitors have come for a reunion. The folks talk about old times and the film then jumps back to the late 1890s when Lydia was young a vivacious. Each man's involvement with the lady as well as Lydia's eventually calling as a social worker unfold through the course of this movie.

    To me, "Lydia" is a very uneven film. Some portions, such as Lydia setting up a school for the blind, are well done and touching. As for her loves, sometimes (especially with Richard) the dialog seems 100% fake--like a movie and not at all like real life and, at times, very tedious. A very odd blend of sentimentality and romance...along with some rather poor old people make-up (the seams on the faces are quite evident on some of the actors). Overall, it's not a bad film but it's also one that comes off as amazingly over-polished and the dialog just seems oddly unreal.
  • comment
    • Author: Ziena
    For a melodrama with a modest budget, this production is surprisingly sophisticated. You may find the story somewhat plodding, particularly in the first half, but after Lydia discovers her true calling in helping blind children, the cinematography takes on some striking symbolism. You can further appreciate the attention to detail in some of the sets and costumes, particularly when attention is drawn to darkness.

    Consider that this film was made in 1941 as the U.S. was poised to enter the war already raging in Europe, and women would soon be compelled to work and sacrifice. The romantic repression of Lydia thus seems irrational in context, and the ending suggests as much. It pre-dates the Hollywood work of Sirk, who would critique American clichés in his great '50s films, and similarly exposes some of the delusions of masochistic romance.
  • Complete credited cast:
    Merle Oberon Merle Oberon - Lydia MacMillan
    Edna May Oliver Edna May Oliver - Sarah MacMillan
    Alan Marshal Alan Marshal - Richard Mason
    Joseph Cotten Joseph Cotten - Michael Fitzpatrick
    Hans Jaray Hans Jaray - Frank Andre (as Hans Yaray)
    George Reeves George Reeves - Bob Willard
    John Halliday John Halliday - Fitzpatrick
    Sara Allgood Sara Allgood - Mary
    Billy Ray Billy Ray - Johnny
    Frank Conlan Frank Conlan - Old Ned
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