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TODAY WE LIVE (director: Howard Hawks; screenwriters: from the short story Turn About by William Faulkner/William Faulkner/Edith Fitzgerald/Dwight Taylor; cinematographer: Oliver T. Marsh; editor: Edward Curtiss; music: William Axt/David Snell/Herbert Stothart; cast: Joan Crawford (Diana Boyce-Smith), Gary Cooper (Lt. Richard Bogard), Robert Young (Lt. Claude Hope), Franchot Tone (Lt. Ronnie Boyce-Smith), Roscoe Karns (Lt. Mac McGinnis), Louise Closser Hale (Applegate), Rollo Lloyd (Major), Hilda Vaughn (Eleanor); Runtime: 110; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Howard Hawks; Warner Home Video; 1933)
A stilted WWI love triangle story set in England.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A stilted WWI love triangle story set in England, where the heroine’s three loves are all fighting on the front and only one will return alive. Most of its aerial footage was lifted from Hell’s Angels stock. It’s directed without distinction by Howard Hawks (“Scarface”/”Tiger Shark”/”Bringing Up Baby”) and is based on William Faulkner’s short story Turn About, which had appeared in the Saturday Evening Post on March 5, 1932. Screenwriters include Faulkner, Edith Fitzgerald and Dwight Taylor.

In 1916, during WWI, where England battles Germany, wealthy American Richard Bogard (Gary Cooper) buys an estate in Kent from an old English aristocratic family, the Boyce-Smiths. The displaced owner, Diana “Ann” Boyce-Smith (Joan Crawford), grieves after just learning her dad was killed-in-action. Ann moves to the guest cottage without complaint and says her goodbyes to her brother Ronnie (Franchot Tone) and childhood friend and neighbor, Claude Hope (Robert Young), both newly trained naval officers on their way to France.

Bogard falls in love with Ann, unaware she’s engaged to Claude. Ann finds she’s also in love with the American. While biking in the woods, Bogard tells Ann he has enlisted in the Royal Air Force. Soon afterwards Ann journeys to France to meet up with Claude and Ronnie, and volunteers for the ambulance corps. Ann tells her brother she loves Bogard, but decides to honor her marriage vow to Claude.

Wartime heroics abound, and in one incident Claude is blinded by a German torpedo. That is followed by more heroics, as a blind Claude and Ronnie take on a German battleship with their speedboat. This is the same battleship that Bogardus volunteered to take out in a suicidal bombing mission.

Hardly convincing and a little too gung-ho on wartime heroics for my taste, but watchable for Cooper and Crawford. Of interest, in real life Franchot won Joan’s heart and they married after the pic.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”