Gay Sisters, the (1942): Rapper’s Family Melodrama, Starring Barbara Stanwyck and George Brent

Irving Rapper directed this family melodrama, based on a novel by Stephen Longstreet, boasting a large cast headed by Barbara Stanwyck, George Brent, Geraldine Fitzgerald, Donald Crisp, Gig Young, and Nancy Coleman. The Warner film was

Sisters Fiona, Evelyn, and Susie Gaylord, are orphaned when their mother goes down with the Lusitania and their wealthy father, Major Penn Gaylord, is killed in France in World War I.

Before Penn left for France, he told Fiona, the eldest, that the Gaylords have never sold the land they have acquired. However, their inheritance is held up in probate for decades.

Though they have a Fifth Avenue mansion, the sisters had to borrow money to live. A French charity claims that Penn made a later will before he died, leaving it some of the Gaylord estate. The Gaylords are willing to give up the 10%, their real antagonist, Charles Barclay, who wants their mansion, and the choice land on which it sits too, so he can tear it down as part of his development, Barclay Square.

Evelyn marries an English nobleman, who fights in the RAF, while Susie is in love with painter Gig Young. Susanna only stayed with her husband for a few hours, but he refuses to grant her annulment unless she pays him a lot of money.  When Evelyn returns home from England, she becomes attracted to Gig and tries to steal him away.

Fiona fires the longtime Gaylord lawyer, Hershell Gibbon, due to his being too sympathetic to Charles, and hires Ralph Pedloch.

Six years before, a relative died and left the sisters $100,000 on condition that Fiona be married. Fiona decided to go through with a sham marriage to a cousin, but ran into Charles, then a construction crew foreman, and found him much more attractive.

She manipulated the lovestruck man into proposing. On their wedding night, she pretended to faint. While he went to purchase some medicine, she packed up, leaving a letter with $25,000, her wedding ring and an explanation. However, he returned before she left and forced her to have sex before letting her go. Fiona gave birth to a boy, Austin, and had him raised by a trusted friend. When that friend died, Fiona brought the boy to live with her.

When Susie tries to commit suicide after it appears that she has lost Gig, Fiona finally realizes the toll of her stubborn determination. She gives up the mansion and grants Charles sole custody of Austin.

In the end, Gig chooses the now-single Susie, and Charles tells Fiona he still loves her.


Barbara Stanwyck as Fiona Gaylord
George Brent as Charles Barclay
Geraldine Fitzgerald as Evelyn Gaylord
Donald Crisp as Ralph Pedloch
Byron Barr as Gig Young
Nancy Coleman as Susanna “Susie” Gaylord
Gene Lockhart as Mr. Herschell Gibbon
Larry Simms as Austin, aka “Butch”
Donald Woods as Penn Sutherland Gaylord
Grant Mitchell as Gilbert Wheeler
William T. Orr as Dick Tone
Anne Revere as Miss Ida Orner