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Hold Back the Dawn

(1941 b 115')

En: 7 Ed: 6

A Romanian marries an American school-teacher to enter the U. S. from Mexico and then falls in love with her.

On a movie set Georges Iscovescu (Charles Boyer) asks director Saxon (Mitchell Leisen) for $500 for his story. Georges says he came from Romania and Paris.

In Mexico Georges learns he must wait five years to get into the United States. Immigration inspector Hammock (Walter Abel) visits the waiting family of Van Den Luecken (Victor Franken). On the street Georges meets Emmy Brown (Olivia de Havilland) and her kids and says he dislikes Americans. In a bar Anita Dixon (Paulette Goddard) sees her dancing partner Georges and says she got into the U. S. by marrying an American. Georges cleans up and meets a woman at a bull fight, but she is married. Georges sees Emmy getting her car fixed and learns the kids are her pupils. Georges delays the repair by losing the gasket and entrances Emmy. He arranges for them to stay in the hotel lobby and finds Anita in his room. She wants to dance with him and lets him have her wedding ring. Emmy wakes to find Georges sitting there; he says he put his mother's ring on her finger and kisses her. Georges walks away; but Emmy runs after him, and they are wed. Georges says he must wait four weeks for his visa. Emmy leaves with the boys.

Georges borrows a typewriter from Van Den Luecken, and Anita helps him write his letter. Hammock tells pregnant Berta Kurz (Rosemary DeCamp) her husband can't get in because of tuberculosis. Georges and Anita kiss and plan to go to New York. Hammock sees them and learns she is divorced. Emmy tells Georges she got a week off and gives him money. Anita advises Georges to take Emmy away from Hammock. Georges gives Anita money to pay his bills and for her.

Georges and Emmy drive in the rain. Hammock learns Georges just married an American. In a village Georges and Emmy are blessed with other newly weds, and she expects three children. They camp out in the station-wagon; Georges tells Emmy he hurt his shoulder in order not to sleep with her. They drive in the heat, and Emmy goes swimming.

Berta's baby is due. Georges and Emmy return, and she must leave. Anita tells Georges they have two offers; but he says not in October. Anita asks Emmy for her ring and says the marriage was her idea. Berta goes into Hammock's office. Anita tells Emmy to go away. Hammock questions Emmy, who says she asked Georges to marry and knows about him. Emmy tells Georges good-bye and leaves the ring. Hammock finds that Berta had her baby in his office. Georges does not speak to Anita.

Emmy drives off the road, and the car overturns. Georges learns she is in a hospital in Los Angeles, borrows a car, and drives across the border, chased by Hammock. Georges hides and goes to the hospital, where he finds Emmy unconscious. By talking he revives her. Georges flees and tells Saxon that Emmy needs the $500, but Hammock arrests him. Several weeks later in Mexico Anita is working for a rich foreigner, and Hammock tells Georges he can cross the border to Emmy.

This melodrama contrasts the manipulation of Georges and Anita to the true feelings of Emmy, who awakens similar love in Georges. The social context distorting the motivations is the discrepancy between life and opportunity in Mexico and the USA.

Copyright © 2002 by Sanderson Beck

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