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," the 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")
  • the character of his 40-ish wife of 20 years Fran (Ruth Chatterton), youth-obsessed, vain, social-climbing and self-centered, in a small Ohio town
  • during the cruise, Fran's open flirtations with suave, debonair playboy Capt. Clyde Lockert (David Niven), and soon after in Paris, she was also cozying up to international financier and distinguished art collector Arnold Iselin (Paul Lukas) and other newly-acquired continental friends
  • Sam's opportune meeting on the deck with American divorcee Mrs. Edith Cortright (Mary Astor) who was living in Italy and shared Sam's excitement about life and learning new things
  • the scene in their Parisian hotel room during their long-awaited getaway vacation when Fran told Sam that she wanted him to return to the US without her for the summer: ("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"); 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")
  • later after a trial separation, Sam returned to Europe where after some months of watching her continual flirtations, Fran declared her intentions to 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?"
  • the scene of Kurt's stern Baroness mother (Oscar-nominated Maria Ouspenskaya in her first Hollywood film) telling a 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
  • and the confrontational scene on the cruise liner about to depart from Naples for the US, when Sam 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
  • the concluding happy-ending sequence of Sam's exuberant, joyous return to Edith - 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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