Shorthand For Sex in 40's Melodrama
Love-Starved Stanwyck Risks My Reputation (1946)
All That Heaven Allows arrives ten years early, so why don't cultists celebrate My Reputation? Maybe Doug Sirk's a better auteur bet than Curtis Bernhardt, who awaits rediscovery (or, for that matter, discovery). A "woman's picture" in best sense of emotional storytelling, and Barbara Stanwyck dials down intensity she might have applied were this 30's-done. The war had made plusher the furnishing of femme-focused fare, domestic patronage shorn of men-folk for a duration, thus it comes as surprise to hear of My Reputation being tabled two years from early 1944 completion (armed service saw it during interim, as witness Warner-issued publicity below) and belatedly released to theatres in '46. This was case with many of Warner origin, longer first-runs requiring less in distribution pipeline. My Reputation and others of "A" stature could play four weeks and upward in the keys, a switch from former policy of even biggest pics leaving after a single frame.
Screen couples still couldn't engage in "affairs," but they could think lots about it, and indeed come close to the deed but for sensible intervention or found wisdom. My Reputation sees Stanwyck in receipt of both; with hots for George Brent, she'll abstain in deference to local gossip and family obligation. PCA memos are all but transcribed to dialogue, us knowing Stanwyck won't submit to Brent blandishment, even if she does get satisfaction of telling off tongue-waggers and intrusive mother Lucile Watson. It was OK for 40's women to want sex, so long as they didn't indulge outside of marriage. What titillated viewership was Stanwyck and sisterhood within sniff distance of the bed, even as yank-back was assured by status screen quo. Taken with acceptance of that reality, My Reputation gives plenty satisfaction, with Stanwyck a most attractive I've seen her in any 40's circumstance (including Double Indemnity, where she was sold more in siren terms). Remember this one come Christmas, as there are nice Yule and New Year segments. My Reputation is available on DVD, and Warner Instant has streamed it in HD.