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Westward Passage

(1932 b 73')

En: 5 Ed: 5


Adapted from a novel by Margaret Ayer Barnes, a novelist quarrels with his wife and divorces her so she can marry a friend; but he meets her again.

On their wedding night Nick Allen (Laurence Olivier) and Olivia Allen (Ann Harding) get Mrs. Truesdale (Zasu Pitts) to open her inn. Olivia changes clothes for Nick; they kiss and dance. At home Nick reads a letter to change his story to a happy ending. He and Olivia quarrel and make up. Nick resists going to a party but has fun dancing. Harry Ottendorf (Irving Pichel) dances with Olivia. Nick gets jealous and drives off. He calls Olivia to come out of bed, and she tells him they are going to have a baby; but Nick is not glad. In the bathroom Nick causes their baby girl to cry. Olivia has Nick take the baby out. Harry tells Olivia he is going away, and Henrietta (Juliette Compton) spills tea on Nick's manuscript. Nick complains he is tied down and leaves. Nick drinks with friends, who leave when Harry comes in. Harry says that Olivia is unhappy and blames Nick. So Nick divorces Olivia so that she can marry Harry.

Six years later Olivia and Harry celebrate their anniversary at Lucerne. Olivia tells Diane that she adores Harry, but Diane urges her to go out. At a bookstore Olivia sees Nick's novel, and he gives her one. Nick is glad to see her. Harry greets Nick and tells Olivia that he has to go back to Chicago. Nick dines with Olivia; but she won't dance with him. Nick says that he is not over her. Olivia finds Nick on her boat, and he tells little Olivia (Bonita Granville) that he is her father. Olivia doesn't want to see Nick; but he gets into her room with his daughter. Olivia and Nick ask Henrietta to stay. They dance in the ballroom. Olivia meets a Spanish count, making Nick a little jealous. They get off the boat, and Olivia is met by Otto Hoopengarner. A toy giraffe is delivered to little Olivia from Nick.

Nick takes Olivia to Mrs. Truesdale's inn. He says the reasons for their quarrels no longer exist, but she is not so sure. Nick takes Olivia to his farm, and his Chinese servant greets her with flowers. Nick carries her in, and they kiss. Nick and Olivia play piano together, and she asks him to visit her in Reno. They discuss their plans to live there and quarrel. When Nick says that she cares only about money, she slaps him. Olivia packs her bag to leave; but Nick is playing piano, and they make up.

This film lost $250,000 and kept Olivier away from Hollywood for seven years, probably because of Nick's unsympathetic and stubborn character. Yet the story portrays the realistic if uncomfortable situation of quarrelsome people, who struggle with the love-hate dilemma.

Copyright © 2001 by Sanderson Beck

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