Winter Meeting (1946): Bretaigne Windust’s Melodrama, Starring Bette Davis and Jim Davis (Woman Director)

Bretaigne Windust directed Winter Meeting, an overblown melodrama, starring Bette Davis and co-starring Jim Davis, who lacks the charm or skill as her onscreen parner.

Winter Meeting
Winter Meeeting film poster.jpg

Theatrical release poster

Grade: C (*1/2* out of *****)

The screenplay, based on the novel by Grace Zaring Stone (under the pseudonym Ethel Vance), was written by Catherine Turney.

William Grant Sherry introduced his wife Bette Davis to the novel Winter Meeting and suggested it as her next film.

Davis plays disenchanted poet Susan Grieve. Escorted by her friend Stacy Grant, she meets embittered World War II naval hero Lieutenant Slick Novak at a Manhattan restaurant where a dinner party is held in his honor.

He is more interested in Susan than his blind date Peggy Markham. The two become better acquainted in Susan’s apartment, and after initial doubts, she succumbs to his charm.

Slick returns to see Susan, and she spontaneously invites him to spend the remainder of his leave at her country house. The two share secrets about each other, Susan telling him about her clergyman father’s descent into insanity and eventual suicide, and how it estranged her from her mother.

Slick then confesses his longtime desire to become a priest and revealing the guilt he feels about surviving the war while others died in battle.

Slick returns to the city alone, and Susan later accidentally runs into him and Peggy in the restaurant where they first met.

When he suggests to try and make their relationship work, she urges him to reconsider the priesthood and they part ways.

In the last scene, Susan, having learned of her mother’s hospitalization, calls her on the phone, expressing her wish to reunite.

Greeted with negative reviews (“unrewarding mediocrity” noted one review), Winter Meeting was a commercial flop. It even failed to recoup its considerable budget of $2 million, earning only $880,000 domestically, and $203,000 in foreign markets.

It was Davis’ second film to lose money in 1946, after Deception, her first failure. Winter Meeting was her least financially successful Warners release, signaling the beginning of her final days as the studio’s reigning star.

As for Jim Davis, after years of low-profile roles, he landed a major role as the family patriarch Jock Ewing on the popular TV soap Dallas, which debuted in 1978.

Cast

Bette Davis as Susan Grieve
Janis Paige as Peggy Markham
James Davis (Jim) as Slick Novak
John Hoyt as Stacy Grant
Florence Bates as Mrs. Castle
Walter Baldwin as Mr. Castle
Ransom Sherman as Mr. Roderick Moran, Jr.

Credits:

Directed by Bretaigne Windust
Written by Catherine Turney, based on Winter Meeting, 1946 novel by Ethel Vance
Produced by Henry Blanke
Cinematography Ernest Haller
Edited by Owen Marks
Music by Max Steiner
Distributed by Warner Bros.

Release date: April 7, 1948

Running time: 104 minutes

Note:

TCM showed the movie on Sep 16, 2022.