As it's usually the case, some surviving spouses are conveniently dropped from their social circles once their partners have died. Jessica finds out, soon enough, even she becomes an attractive proposition for George Van Orman, one of her closest friends, who wants to take advantage of a vulnerable Jessica. To make matters worse, her two sons go away to boarding school leaving her alone in a large house with not much to do.
That situation changes as Ginna Abbott, a kind friend, invites to join her and her husband for a vacation in California, near Lake Tahoe. Jessica, who is a poor skier, gets stranded as she doesn't know her way back to the Abbotts. When she spots Scott Landis, she asks for help. That meeting proves to be the pivoting point in her life. As a matter of fact, it will also be her downfall, at least in the eyes of her friends back home.
When Maj. Landis gets transferred to Chicago, he meets Jessica by chance. It's clear Jessica has fallen for him, yet, she plays a guarded role, while continuing to see him. Her mother's best friend catches her as she comes to visit Scott, and it's not too soon when Mrs. Kimball learns about it. Her own children get an inkling of what is being rumored about Jessica and Maj. Landis in the worst way. Jessica, who has been planning to go away with Scott, has to think hard about her duty to her sons and her own happiness.
Curtis Bernhardt directed the melodrama which makes for engrossing viewing. It helps that Max Steiner was on board to create the background music, one of the best things in the picture. The camera work of James Wong Howe, a man who knew how to capture it all, created the crisp black and white photography that has kept well even after more than sixty years after it went into production.
Barbara Stanwyck is tremendously appealing as Jessica. She was a consummate professional who made this role one of her best creations. George Brent projected a virile figure in his pictures, and he does a wonderful job to portray Scott Landis as a man torn between what he felt for Jessica and her world. The magnificent Lucile Watson is seen as Mrs. Kimball. Jerome Cowan, Eve Arden, Leona Mariele, play some of the supporting roles with flair.
"My Reputation" was one of Ms. Stanwyck's favorite films. It's clear why she thought so.