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The lone pairing of Joan Crawford and John Wayne is reason enough for being curious about Reunion in France, a flagrantly preposterous World War II melodrama with a surprisingly distinguished roster of contributors--from producer Joseph L. Mankiewicz, co-screenwriter Marc Connelly, and director Jules Dassin to such stalwart character actors as Philip Dorn, John Carradine, Reginald Owen, Henry Daniell, Albert Bassermann, Howard Da Silva, and unbilled bit player Ava Gardner. It's a Crawford vehicle all the way (her next-to-last at MGM), with her as a heedless French fashionista in love with ultra-swank, wealthy industrial designer Dorn. While on a trip, Crawford finds herself under German bombs and, after suffering in the company of other, much less stylishly costumed refugees, makes her way back to Paris. There she's shocked to discover Dorn still enjoying his upper-crust lifestyle: he's lent his skills and factories to the Nazi war machine, and Crawford--appalled and suddenly penniless--seeks gainful employment and moral rearmament with her favorite modiste.

Wayne enters the picture a couple of reels in, an American flyboy who signed on with the RAF, crashed in France, and made his way to Paris. Inveigling himself into Crawford's arms under the eyes of a Gestapo agent, he enjoys her reluctant protection for a good deal longer than credibility can bear. People who know such things have recorded that, in reality, Crawford made any number of heavy passes at her costar, but there was no chemistry between them offscreen or on. The one scene in the film with any sting features veteran German actor Ernst Deutsch (the future Baron Kurtz of The Third Man, billed as Ernest Dorian in his Hollywood years) as a Nazi officer tormented by the knowledge that he is loathed by the people whose nation he occupies.

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WA79735 Reunion in France DVD (1942/Joan Crawford/John Wayne) $12.97 $11.99