Wednesday, June 29, 2011

B.S.A.P: Mary Astor in The Great Lie (1941)

Mary Astor received her 1st and only oscar nomination, and won for playing pianist Sandra Kovack in 1941's The Great Lie.

The Great Lie starts out terrific, with Bette Davis wonderful playing a young woman named Maggie who is in love with a man named Pete, who is married (Well, not legally) to famous concert pianist Sandra Kovack. Mary Astor is fabulous here, milking the rich, charismatic side of Sandra for all it's worth. She and Davis are terrific together in these scenes, showing their hate, yet respect for each other and their love for Pete. I also love her scenes where she is a pianist, unfortunately their not very elaborated on, but Astor make them grand and entertaining.

Unfortunately , the movie goes downhill when it is revealed that Sandra is pregnant, and Maggie , since it is believed that Pete is dead, wants the baby, for Pete's sake (No pun intended!, and will make sure Sandra is financially secure for the rest of her life. So, Maggie takes Sandra to a secluded cottage in Arizona, where she makes sure she is taking care of the baby and to keep an eye on Sandra. These scenes are the weakest and most unbelievable of the movie, and both actresses, despite trying hard to make the material work, are affected by it, and never recover. Astor's acting is still good, but a sour feeling of soapy melodrama hangs over her, which is unfortunate. Things improve though after it is revealed that Pete is really alive, because Sandra now wants the baby and Pete back. The material is still dreadful, but Astor is very fun to watch as she clashes with Davis.

So, Mary Astor gives a very entertaining and effective performance that adds to the film wonderfully at first, but falls down once the film took that awful plot twist. Still, a worthy winner. She gets


Louis Morgan said...

Well I have not seen here, but her performance seems interesting enough to watch, even though the film sounds rather poor. Do you think she was more deserving for the Maltese Falcon though?

joe burns said...

I haven't seen it yet!