A classic woman's film in the best sense of the word, "Old Acquaintance" was remade by George Cukor as "Rich and Famous" and echoed in the final scenes of Pedro Almodovar's "La Flor de Mi Secreto." Such is the enduring appeal of this tale of a friendship between two women that continues throughout their lives despite rivalries, temperament, and love affairs. Of course with Bette Davis and Miriam Hopkins as the women, the film rises from melodramatic soap opera to a higher level. Davis plays Kit, a serious, sensitive writer, whose interests lie principally in her work. Hopkins plays Millie, a self-absorbed woman who envies her friend's success, but is determined to have everything: a writing career, a home, and a family. While Kit writes critically lauded books and plays, Millie produces a steady stream of best selling romantic novels. While Millie becomes wealthy beyond measure, Kit remains appreciated if not rich. However, Kit's warmth attracts the affections of not only Millie's increasingly estranged husband, but also her neglected daughter. Thus, the stage is set for emotional clashes between the two writers that provide Davis and Hopkins with some juicy material. Hopkins in particular chews the scenery, wrings her hands, and emotes outrageously. Davis, on the other hand, underplays her role more than usual, although the Davis eyes and inflections remain. Perhaps she understood that the histrionics of more than one actress would be too much for the audience to bear. However, during one classic outburst, Davis unexpectedly does steal a scene from Hopkins and provoke a startled laugh from the audience. With two strong women at its center, the men in "Old Acquaintance" understandably play support. John Loder is all bland good looks as Millie's husband, and a handsome Gig Young does little besides look handsome and play the too-young romantic interest for Davis. With the exception of Deidre, Hopkins' daughter, the other major female roles also involve working women. Although Davis's maid may be a domestic, she does work and earn her own living. The reporter who interviews Hopkins and Loder is a gender-neutral role, but perhaps to emphasize the centrality of women to the story, another strong actress, Anne Revere, was cast. In fact, besides Loder and Young, most of the men in the film play waiters, taxi drivers, night clerks, playboys, and drunks. Newcomer Dolores Moran, who plays Deidre, was out of her league with Davis and Hopkins and comes across as shallow and unconvincing. Her erotic gyrations to seduce Gig Young in a listening booth and her defiant dalliance with an older playboy are at odds with the character and image of Kit, who was supposedly Deidre's role model. Fast paced, lush, and romantic, "Old Acquaintance" is one of those movies that "they just don't make anymore." The dialog is delicious, the performances occasionally border on camp, and the direction is sure-handed. With a box of chocolates, a wad of Kleenex, and a bottle of flat champagne, Bette and Miriam are the perfect friends for a rainy afternoon.
Drama / Romance
Drama / Romance
Old friends Kit Marlowe and Millie Drake adopt contrasting lifestyles: Kit is a single, critically acclaimed author while married Millie writes popular pulp novels.
May 28, 2020