Friday, June 8, 2012

The Constant Nymph(1943).

The Constant Nymph(1943). A romantic drama. Cast Charles Boyer, Joan Fontaine, Alexis Smith, Brenda Marshall, Charles Coburn, May Whitty, and Peter Lorre. It was adapted by Kathryn Scola from the Margaret Kennedy novel and play by Kennedy and Basil Dean, and directed by Edmund Goulding.

After, composer Lewis Dodd's latest symphony does not go over very well in London, he goes to visit an old friend musician, Albert Sanger. One of Sanger's four daughters Tessa,  falls in love with Lewis and dreams of helping him follow his dream as a composer.

The very ill Sanger has kept his daughters away from society and now worries about what is to become of them. He asks Lewis to inform the girls wealthy uncle, Charles Creighton, if he dies. When the girls play a  song that Lewis wrote for them, Sanger tells Lewis that, the beautiful melody is better than his more intellectual work.

Some time later, Sanger dies. Lewis sends for Creighton, who arrives with his beautiful daughter Florence and Kate travels to Milan to study music and Toni marries wealthy Fritz Bercovy. Lewis and Florence fall in love and when they announce their engagement, the frail heartbroken Tessa faints after hearing the news. Creighton arranges for Tessa and Paula to attend school in England and Lewis and Florence marry.

Six months later, Lewis is frustrated by Florence trying to take over his career and the couple quarrel constantly. When Tessa and Paula run away from their school, Lewis leaves to look for them, not attending the party that Florence has planned to introduce him to her friends. Lewis, later finds them home waiting for him. Paula leaves to join Fritz and Toni, who is pregnant and Tessa stays with Florence and Lewis. When Tessa hears Lewis' latest composition, based on the song that he wrote for her and her sisters, she believes it is not his best work.

Later, Tessa encourages Lewis to put sentiment back into his music and with Tessa's help, Lewis changes his composition. Florence,  now knows that Tessa is her rival and  tries to get rid of her. The night of the first performance, Lewis realizes that he is in love with Tessa and asks her to go away with him, but Tessa refuses because he is married to her cousin. The excitement of Lewis' proposal and the premiere of his composition causes Tessa to have another fainting spell, and Florence insists that Tessa stay home, rather than attend the concert. Will Lewis' concert go well and will Florence decide to let him go?

Fun Fact: Alfred Hitchcock was considered for directing this film. Hitchcock's wife Alma Reville was one of the writers of The Constant Nymph 1928 version.


 A very romantic film, with beautiful music by Erich Korngold. Alexis Smith as the unloved wife gives a perfect performance, as does Joan Fontaine and Charles Boyer. The supporting actors are also very good, including Charles Coburn, Peter Lorre, Brenda Marshall, Dame May Witty, and Jean Muir. You will need plenty of Kleenex for the very touching ending.

Brenda Marshall (September 29, 1915 – July 30, 1992) Marshall made her first film appearance in the 1939 Espionage Agent.

The following year, she played the leading lady to Errol Flynn in The Sea Hawk.

After divorcing actor Richard Gaines in 1940, she married the actor William Holden in 1941 and her own career quickly slowed.

She starred opposite James Cagney in the 1942 film Captains of the Clouds.

The Constant Nymph (1943) was a popular success but she virtually retired after this, appearing in only four more films. Among these, she played scientist Nora Goodrich in the grade-B 1946 cult classic Strange Impersonation.


  1. I have never seen nor even heard of "The Constant Nymph." It sounds very good, so I will be looking out for it.

    I saw Brenda Marshall in something a couple weeks ago, and I always think of her as Mrs. William Holden. Much as I adore Mr. Holden, I know that he was a horrible husband (quite the cheating man about town), so I always feel very sorry for Miss Marshall. Had to have been a very difficult 30 years she endured with him!

    Thanks for the great review!

  2. I saw The Constant Nymph a few months backs. By the end of the film I was almost happy when Fontaine's character died--that's bad isn't it? While I didn't like Alexis Smith's character, I found her way more interesting than Fontaine's.

  3. Patti, It was on Friday morning. I just happened to see it for the first time myself.. Next time it is on.. I will let you know. Have a great week-end.

    I think most actors make "horrible husbands".

    Kim, I think why Fontaine's character was so low-key, was because she was playing a very frail sickly woman.


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