My Reputation (1946): Curtis Bernhard’s Romantic and Family Melodrama, Starring Stanwyck as Young Widow and Mother, George Brent, Eve Arden (Small-Town America)

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German-born director Curtis Bernhard made My Reputation, a well-acted melodrama, starring Barbara Stanwyck as Jessica (Jess), a young widow of 33, and mother of two, struggling to rebuild her life after the recent death of her husband.

Predictably, living in a small town, she becomes the victim of rumors and gossip. With her sons away at school, Jessica Drummond is lonely, but she is uninterested in the potential suitors her mother, Mrs. Kimball (Lucile Watson), chooses for her.

Jessica joins her close friend Ginna Abbott (Eve Arden) on a skiing trip and meets Maj. Scott Landis (George Brent), a handsome man who is attracted to her.

Jessica makes it clear that she has no interest in a short-term fling, and upon returning home, she meets Frank Everett (Warner Anderson), a gentle but boring man whom she begins dating. Frank is willing to marry Jessica, but by chance she meets Scott again.

my reputation stanwyck 2While “refusing” to be seduced by him, Jess finds him even more exciting and alluring than Frank.

However, as Jessica debates the merits of passion vs. security, she becomes the subject of mean-spirited gossipmongers who speculate that her relationship with Scott is inappropriately intimate for a new widow.

Happy Ending, After All (Spoiler Alert)

In the early morning, when she goes to her sons to say goodbye, Jess discovers that their beds are empty; they are at her house. She pleads with them to understand her loneliness and grief and that she still greatly loved their father. Keith then tells her that even though he does not understand, he just wants her to be happy.

In the last sequence, Jess runs down the train platform searching for Scott. She tells him she cannot leave as her sons are too young to understand. Scott, a sensitive man, reaffirms that he’s meant to be with her, asking Jess to wait for his return.

My Reputation was shot in 1944, but it wasn’t released until 1946, because the studio believed that it would be better received after the end of WWII.

Made at the peak of the career of Stanwyck (in 1944 she scored big in Billy Wilder’s film noir, Double Indemnity) the movie was moderately popular at the box office

Cast
Barbara Stanwyck as Jessica Drummond
George Brent as Maj. Scott Landis
Warner Anderson as Frank Everett
Lucile Watson as Mrs. Mary Kimball
John Ridgely as Cary Abbott
Eve Arden as Ginna Abbott
Jerome Cowan as George Van Orman
Esther Dale as Anna
Scotty Beckett as Kim Drummond
Bobby Cooper as Keith Drummond
Leona Maricle as Riette Van Orman
Mary Servoss as Mary
Cecil Cunningham as Mrs. Stella Thompson
Janis Wilson as Penny Boardman
Ann E. Todd as Gretchen Van Orman

My Reputation
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Credits:

Directed by Curtis Bernhardt
Screenplay by Catherine Turney, based on Instruct My Sorrows
1942 novel by Clare Jaynes
Produced by Jack L. Warner, Henry Blanke
Cinematography James Wong Howe
Edited by David Weisbart
Music by Max Steiner
Distributed by Warner Brothers

Release date: January 25, 1946

Running time 94 minutes
Budget $1,1 million
Box office $3 million (US rentals)

Note:

Essay written in 2016.