Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Dodsworth (1936)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Dodsworth (1936)

In William Wyler's Best Picture-nominated bittersweet romance drama:

  • in the opening, to the tune of "Auld Lang Syne," there was a silhouetted (from the back) view of retiring US auto industrialist husband Sam Dodsworth (Oscar-nominated Walter Huston) standing at the window of his auto-plant on his last day on the job after selling his business; the camera tracked behind the beloved Dodsworth as he walked among the workers, assembled to bid him goodbye ("I hate to see you go, Sam")
  • he had been married for 20 years to 40-ish wife Fran (Ruth Chatterton), youth-obsessed, vain, social-climbing and self-centered, and had lived in the small Ohio town of Zenith with her; she was continually afraid of growing old
  • during their retirement cruise to Europe together, Fran showed her real colors when she openly flirted with suave, lothario, debonair English playboy Capt. Clyde Lockert (David Niven)
  • Sam happened to have an opportune meeting on the ship's deck with beautiful, expatriate and American divorcee Mrs. Edith Cortright (Mary Astor) who was living in Italy and shared Sam's excitement about life and learning new things
  • soon after in Paris, Fran was also cozying up to international financier and distinguished art collector Arnold Iselin (Paul Lukas) and other newly-acquired continental friends
  • in their Parisian hotel room during their long-awaited getaway vacation, Fran told Sam that she wanted him to return to the US without her for the summer: when he balked, she demanded a trial separation for the summer so that she could have a youthful fling: ("You've got to let me have my fling now! Because you're simply rushing at old age, Sam, and I'm not ready for that yet"); she became entranced with the cosmopolitan lifestyle and had romantic flings with three Europeans
  • later after a trial separation, Sam returned to Europe where after some months of watching her continual flirtations, Fran declared her intentions to divorce Sam and marry young Austrian baron Kurt Von Obersdorf (Gregory Gaye): ("I love Kurt, and Kurt loves me, and I'm going to marry him. He asked me tonight...You've never known me. You've never known anything about me, not what I had on or thought or the sacrifices I've made....I'll be happy with Kurt. I'm fighting for life! You can't drag me back!"); she made demands for a divorce, followed by her parting from a forlorn Sam at the Vienna train station when he told her: "Did I remember to tell you today that I adore you?"
  • later, Kurt's stern Baroness mother (Oscar-nominated Maria Ouspenskaya in her first Hollywood film) told the devastated Fran that she wouldn't allow her son's marriage: ("You will forgive if I observe that you are older than Kurt...Have you thought how little happiness there can be for the old wife of a young husband?"); Fran was forced to return to Sam and make plans to return to America
  • on their cruise liner about to depart from Naples for the US, Sam had a major confrontational scene with the self-absorbed, and unapologetic Fran; he finally had decided to leave his selfish, nagging and eternally-unhappy wife and his loveless, estranged marriage for good: ("I'm not sailing with you... You and I can't make a go of things any longer...I'm not taking another chance, because I'm through, finished, and that's flat....I'm going back to doing things...Love has got to stop someplace short of suicide"); as Sam charged down the gang-plank, Fran cried out: "He's gone ashore; he's gone ashore!" - her shrieks partly drowned out by the ocean liner's blaring horns
  • in the concluding happy-ending sequence, Sam had found peace, solace and love with Edith Cortright; he made an exuberant, joyous return to her - he waved at her from a small fishing boat that approached her rented villa in Naples, Italy and she waved back

Sam's Last Day at Work

Sam With Wife Fran (Ruth Chatterton)

Spiteful, Self-Centered Fran's Pronouncement in Paris

Parting With Fran at the Vienna Train Station: "Did I remember to tell you today that I adore you?"

Fran with Stern Baroness Mother

Sam to Fran: "I'm going back to doing things"


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