TBT: Devotion (1946)

I discovered this flick on Turner Movie Classics, and like rubbernecking a horrific highway accident, I had to watch the damn thing. Because I’m a huge literary nerd (as our podcast listeners may know) and I’ve made the works of the Brontë Sisters a central part of my (frustrated, semi-failed) academic dreams.

This is supposedly a movie about the lives of the Brontë family — the sisters Charlotte, Emily, and Anne, and their brother Patrick Branwell (called just “Branwell”). What the film really does is create a wholly fictional love triangle between their father’s curate Arthur Bell Nichols with Charlotte and Emily. *eye rolls*

Folks, there is zero historical evidence for this crap. It’s a case of taking a bunch of historical names, a few historical events and places, throwing them in a blender with a heaping helping of Hollywood cliches, and the result is a melodramatic smoothie on a soundstage dressed up with one-ring hoop skirts and 1940s bodices. Lordy, if they at least had a few petticoats over those cheap hoops so you don’t see the wire ridges. Not that this would have helped the plot.

Or the acting — Olivia de Havilland plays Charlotte Brontë as a total bitch! Ida Lupino is a sainted, oh-so-precious Emily, and Nancy Coleman is basically nonexistent as Anne. Arthur Kennedy has no choice but to play Branwell as a whiny lush, while Paul Henreid (best know as the third wheel to Bogart and Bergman in Casablanca) is the least-interesting object of two sisters vying for attention that you might imagine. He’s entirely underwhelming.

Even if, or especially if, you’re a huge Brontë fan, this is not a film for you. Re-reading one of the books is a better way to kill time. I’ve fallen on this sword for you!



About the author

Trystan L. Bass

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A self-described ElderGoth, Trystan has been haunting the internet since the early 1990s. Always passionate about costume, from everyday office wear to outrageous twisted historical creations, she has maintained some of the earliest online costuming-focused resources on the web. Her costuming adventures are chronicled on her website, TrystanCraft. She also ran a popular fashion blog, This Is CorpGoth, dedicated to her “office drag.”

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