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By 1946, MGM contract player Donna Reed had been in films for five years and had appeared in 18 films, advancing from bit parts to supporting roles, mostly in "B" pictures, and receiving little notice. 1945 had been a good year for her. She appeared in only two films instead of her usual four or five, and both were "A" pictures, The Picture of Dorian Gray, and They Were Expendable. The latter was a war drama for which she received excellent reviews playing John Wayne's love interest.
In the romantic comedy Faithful in My Fashion (1946), Reed was the leading lady. She plays a department store executive whose fianc comes home on a two-week furlough. While he's been at war, she not only has advanced in her career, she's fallen for another man. But co-workers persuade her to pretend that everything's the same as before so as not to spoil her fianc's leave. She bumbles ineptly through a stockroom job, and moves back into her old, more modest apartment. Then, of course, the romantic meddlers conspire to keep the couple together.
A slight but appealing film, Faithful in My Fashion's biggest strength is the supporting cast of some of the top character actors of the era: dithering Edward Everett Horton, wise grandpa Harry Davenport, blustering Sig Ruman, fluttery Spring Byington, and no-nonsense Margaret Hamilton. The chemistry between Reed and Tom Drake, who plays the soldier, is also strong. Drake had become America's favorite boy next door when he played opposite Judy Garland in Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), and he played a similar charmer in Faithful in My Fashion. Reed got a chance to show her talent for comedy, a gift that had been little utilized so far, but would become an important part of her later career. In a May 1946 interview in Modern Screen magazine, Reed noted, "Why, it's the first time I've been able to laugh on the screen!" In typical style, Variety called Faithful in My Fashion a "Hokey story handled deadpan style with a thick spread of molasses...a fair sentimental item for the femmes," but had praise for the young stars: "Film showcases [Drake's] boyish charms to good advantage...Donna Reed makes an appealing heart interest."
Reed's next film would prove to be her breakout. She was loaned to producer-director Frank Capra to play Mary Hatch in It's a Wonderful Life (1946). Some sources say that MGM agreed to the loanout on the condition that Reed sign a new seven-year contract with the studio. Reed still had two years to go on her original contract, and she did leave the studio two years later, so it's unclear if a second contract was ever signed. At the time, however, Reed believed that It's a Wonderful Life would lead to better things at MGM: "It's amazing that I could have acted in so many B pictures as I did and still have ended up with It's a Wonderful Life. Since then, Metro has lined up lots of important roles for me!" That proved not to be the case. A similar thing happened after her Oscar®-winning role in From Here to Eternity (1953), when Columbia failed to follow up with important parts. Reed turned to television in 1958, starring in the sitcom The Donna Reed Show for eight seasons.
Producer: Lionel Houser
Director: Sidney Salkow
Screenplay: Lionel Houser
Cinematography: Charles Salerno
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, Harry McAfee
Music: Nathaniel Shilkret
Film Editing: Irvine Warburton
Cast: Donna Reed (Jean 'Chunky' Kendrick), Tom Drake (Jeff Compton), Edward Everett Horton (Hiram Dilworthy), Spring Byington (Miss Mary Swanson), Sig Ruman (Professor Boris Riminoffsky), Harry Davenport (Great Grandpa), William 'Bill' Phillips (1st Barfly), Margaret Hamilton (Miss Applegate), Hobart Cavanaugh (Mr. Wilson), Warner Anderson (Walter Medcraft).
BW-82m. Closed Captioning.
by Margarita Landazuri