2nd edition: The Blue Veil

For those of you who bought Volume 2, here is an addition for the second edition as a little thank you:

Jane Wyman’s performance as a children’s nurse in The Blue Veil cannot be compared – literally. The film has been tied up by the French copyright holders for decades, and has never been released on DVD or VHS, and hasn’t been shown legally in the United States for several decades. Sorry, Jane – better luck next time. Wait, Jane! In 2014, for the 2nd edition, I was able to watch The Blue Veil. (And yes, I wore a black hat, mask, and cape; I wiped down the surfaces for fingerprints afterwards…actually, my wife really likes it when I do that. For the movie, I just watched a friend’s ancient VHS of an old television broadcast. No piracy here, people! Just move along…) Producer Jerry Wald initially wanted Greta Garbo, then turned to Bette Davis, before finally settling on Wyman as the widow who raises other children as if they were her own, including Natalie Wood. Joan Blondell, Charles Laughton, Agnes Moorehead, Alan Napier, Harry Morgan, Vivian Vance, and Dan O’Herlihy have smaller roles. Might as well get out the hankies, because you’re going to need them. And water. Lots of water, because you’re going to get plenty dehydrated, from either crying or vomiting, depending on your response to all the babies and desperate children needing mothering, and the sadness of Wyman growing old and apparently unloved. The ending will kill you – either literally, if you have no stomach for this kind of movie, or figuratively, from all the weeping you’ll be doing at the end. Wyman has no shame in milking our sympathy, but she never overplays the moment, taking things quietly, with dignity. She never lets the trademark blue veil of her profession become even slightly wrinkled, at least in part because she’s not really given much to do other than look noble, love children, and wring our hearts when she has to leave them (over and over again). The Blue Veil is a very old-fashioned movie, shameless and unapologetic; Wyman gives a performance to match. Part of me wants to run screaming out into the night, and part of me wants to enjoy a good cry (I really should have bought stock in Kleenex before watching the end). Given how much I tend to hate melodrama – with some notable exceptions – I have to chalk this up to the strength of Wyman’s honest emotional take on the character, and suggest she earned this nomination, even as I can’t believe I sat through this schmaltz without the aid of alcohol. Nah, that would have just dehydrated me even more…

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