To Each His Own (1946)

Paramount

A superbly made melodrama, Mitchell Leisen’s “To Each His Own” is much more than a woman’s picture, or a weepie to use the pejorative jargon for such type of film.
 
The two lead actors, Olivia De Havilland and John Lund, play dual roles, and De Havilland‘s on screen aging is quite convincing. Lund, in his first screen appearance, plays the father of De Havilland’s son and then her son as a grown-up.
 
Spanning 27 years, the tale, written by Charles Brackett and Jacques Thery (based on a story by Brackett), unfolds as a series of flashbacks. It begins at the present time with a mature Josephine (Jody) Norris (De Havilland) sitting on a bench at a train station in London during WWII Blitz.
 
When she hears that an American pilot (Lund) is in town, Jody recalls an earlier, happier time in her life, when she fell for a dashing pilot (also Lund), who declared his love on the air.
 
Unfortunately, their affair results disastrously in a pregnancy. Under pressure from her father, fearing societal contempt, and believing that the pilot was shot down in France, she gives her boy for adoption. But she very much remains in the picture as his aunt, and sure enough, can’t wait for the day when she can reclaim her son back. Except that, for a variety of reasons, this does not happen.
 
Intelligent screenplay, Leisen’s tasteful and restrained direction, and great acting from the entire ensemble prevent the picture from being just a sentimental schmaltz, elevating it to the level of artful melodrama that Hollywood was very good at making at its heyday.
 
“To Each His Own” is one of Olivia De Havilland’s best films, for which she deservedly won her first Best Actress Oscar; her second Oscar was in 1949 for William Wyler’s “The Heiress.”
 
Women dominate the film, which boasts warmth and gentleness and female camaraderie that are missing from the melodramas of Bette Davis, Warner’s biggest movie star at the time.
 
Oscar Nominations: 2
 
Actress: Olivia De Havilland
Story (Original): Charles Brackett
 
Oscar Awards: 1
 
Actress
 
Oscar Context:
 
The Writing Oscar went to Clemence Dane for the movie “Vacation from Marriage.”
 
De Havilland’s win was a surprise, and many in the industry predicted that one of the other nominees will receive the award: Celia Johnson in “Brief Encounter,” Jane Wyman in “The Yearling,” Jennifer Jones in “Duel in the Sun,” and Rosalind Russell in “Sister Kenny.” 
 
Cast
 
Miss Josephine (Jody) Norris (Olivia de Havilland)
Captain Bart Cosgrove/Gregory Piersen (John Lund)
Corinna Piersen (Mary Anderson)
Lord Desham (Roland Culver)
Alex Piersen (Phillip Terry)
Mac Tilton (Bill Goodwin)
Liz Lorimer (Virginia Welles)
Daisy Gingras (Victoria Horne)
Mr. Norris (Griff Barnett)
Belle Ingham (Alma Macrorie)

Credits

Black and white

Running time: 122 Minutes