7.1/10
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The Sisters (1938)

Approved | | Drama | 14 October 1938 (USA)
Three daughters of a small town pharmacist undergo trials and tribulations in their problematic marriages between 1904 and 1908.

Director:

Anatole Litvak

Writers:

Milton Krims (screen play), Myron Brinig (from the novel by)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Errol Flynn ... Frank Medlin
Bette Davis ... Louise Elliott
Anita Louise ... Helen Elliott
Ian Hunter ... William Benson
Donald Crisp ... Tim Hazelton
Beulah Bondi ... Rose Elliott
Jane Bryan ... Grace Elliott
Alan Hale ... Sam Johnson
Dick Foran ... Tom Knivel
Henry Travers ... Ned Elliott
Patric Knowles ... Norman French
Lee Patrick ... Flora Gibbon
Laura Hope Crews ... Flora's Mother
Janet Shaw ... Stella Johnson
Harry Davenport ... Doc Moore
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Storyline

Sisters Louise Elliott, Helen Elliott and Grace Elliott - the daughters of pharmacist Ned Elliott and his wife Rose Elliott - are considered the most attractive and desirable young women in 1904 Silver Bow, Montana. The eldest Louise is the smart, practical one who is pre-engaged to stuffy Tom Knivel, middle daughter Helen is the one who wants excitement in her life regardless of love, and youngest Grace is the naive one. Louise's practicality is why it is somewhat of a surprise when she immediately falls in love with newspaper sportswriter and aspiring novelist Frank Medlin, marries him and runs off with him to his home base of San Francisco. Long pursuing him, Helen marries wealthy older Sam Johnson, who she doesn't love, but who can provide the exciting lifestyle she wants. And Grace, nursing his broken heart, marries Tom. As each sister endures the problems in her marriage - Louise's whose becomes the most obvious as Frank drowns whatever his problems in life in a bottle of booze,... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

14 October 1938 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

As Irmãs See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The earthquake sequence took three weeks to shoot and cost $200,000 ($3.45M in 2017). See more »

Goofs

At the ball on the night of Theodore Roosevelt's presidential election in 1901, the song "In My Merry Oldsmobile" is played. This song wasn't published until 1905. See more »

Quotes

Frank Medlin: [In his goodbye note] Dear Louise - Our love is dying a tawdry death - my fault - so at midnight I ship out for a new horizon. Good-bye. - Frank
See more »

Connections

Edited from Old San Francisco (1927) See more »

Soundtracks

(Oh My Darling) Clementine
(1884) (uncredited)
Music by Percy Montrose
Played in the opening scenes
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Highly forgettable as drama...a nice change for Flynn and Davis...
27 April 2005 | by DoylenfSee all my reviews

Despite the authentic period detail and a very well-staged, realistic earthquake scene that takes place late in this story of early San Francisco (but fails to wake up the sluggish plot), the tale itself is a weak one that gives neither BETTE DAVIS nor ERROL FLYNN very much chance to emote as their fans would like them to. Davis plays a loyal wife while Flynn is the family man who can't settle down. Both are professionally competent here, but seem to be fully aware of the script limitations imposed on their bland characters.

Nevertheless, it's nice to see a more restrained Davis playing a nice, normal woman for a change--but one would expect a few more sparks from their relationship than we get here. Their separation, after he goes off on a binge that takes him away for a four year period while he tries to find himself--and their ultimate reunion--is about all the plot has to offer in the quest for tracing the family history of three daughters who each experience their share of problems in choosing hasty marriages. Beulah Bondi and Henry Travers are their worried parents.

Bette and Errol have both given better performances in more detailed roles--and were fine a year later in their flashier costume roles as Elizabeth and Essex. This seems to be merely an attempt to work up some box-office interest in two of the studio's top stars while at the same time taking Flynn away from his swashbuckling roles. Then too, this might have been Jack Warner's promotional idea of working up audience interest in the two stars before presenting them in the lavish ELIZ. AND ESSEX the following year.

Unfortunately, all of the supporting roles are on the bland side except for Alan Hale, Sr. as a wealthy Irishman who marries Anita Louise, a lovely young thing who wants the security his wealth can provide. A plain looking Jane Bryan is totally wasted as the youngest sister who marries Dick Foran, both terminally bland in their respective roles. Donald Crisp is convincing as Flynn's loyal friend.

But whatever real interest the film has, it owes to the performances of Bette Davis and Errol Flynn who are able to give even this kind of weak material some substance and strength. Ian Hunter as Davis' understanding boss handles his meager assignment with customary charm and skill.

Negative note: Director Anatole Litvak should have toned down Lee Patrick's performance as an inquisitive chatterbox neighbor. Nice to see Laura Hope Crews (Aunt Pittypat from GWTW) as her fluttery mother.

Summing up: Whatever energy was put into this production, the end results are meager, even for Davis and Flynn fans.


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