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Based on a story by German novelist Erich Maria Remarque, The Other Love (1947) is a high-gloss "women's picture," a mashup of Camille (1936), Dark Victory (1939), and Thomas Mann's novel, The Magic Mountain. What elevates it from clich and makes it worth watching is the restless intensity of Barbara Stanwyck's performance. She plays a world-famous concert pianist who arrives at a Swiss sanitarium suffering from consumption. She falls in love with her doctor, played by David Niven, but although he returns her affection, he keeps his distance because of their professional relationship. So she turns to a dashing race car driver (Richard Conte), who convinces her to run off to Monte Carlo with him. But Karen cannot run away from her illness, nor from the doctor's loving concern for her.
The Other Love was the second film made (but the first released) by Enterprise Productions, an independent production company founded in 1945 by David Loew (son of MGM founder Marcus Loew), and former Warner Bros. publicity chief David Einfield. According to The Other Love director Andre De Toth's memoir, Loew and Einfeld wanted "to make high-quality motion pictures with a different approach." De Toth, a one-eyed Hungarian, also directed Enterprise's first film, a western, Ramrod (1947), although he had never directed a western before. He was impressed that the Enterprise offices were elegantly and expensively furnished, that call times were at a civilized 10:30 a.m., and that every evening at 5:15, a uniformed butler wheeled in a trolley filled with champagne, caviar, foie gras and other delicacies and fine liquors.
Stanwyck was one of few stars of the 1930s and 40s who never had an exclusive contract with any one studio during her career, so it wasn't surprising that she made a film for Enterprise. Like almost everyone who ever worked with her, De Toth was in awe of her professionalism and dedication. For the soundtrack, renowned concert pianist Ania Dorfman recorded the classical pieces that Stanwyck's character "played" in the film, and also coached Stanwyck so she could match her actions to Dorfman's playing on the soundtrack. De Toth, whose office was across from Stanwyck's bungalow on the lot, recalled that Stanwyck practiced the piano three hours a day for a month to get it right. When he finally could no longer bear the noise, he gave her a silent keyboard to use. "At the end, she herself could play the relevant pieces," he told Ella Smith, who wrote a book about Stanwyck's career.
Part of Enterprise's "different approach" on The Other Love was to shoot some of the Alps sequences at least partly on location at Mount Wilson, outside of Los Angeles, a rarity in those days when almost everything was shot on the back lot. The location and studio footage are expertly blended in The Other Love, and in one scene, it's clear that Stanwyck performed one of her own stunts on location. It happens in the scene where she meets the racing driver. She is driving a horse and carriage along a mountain road, when a race car suddenly darts out from an adjacent road, causing her horse to rear up. During rehearsal for the scene, Stanwyck's stunt double was slightly injured. The star went to the director and told him that the stunt was dangerous, and that the stuntwoman should be paid extra. He agreed, but when they shot the first take, De Toth saw, to his horror, that it was actually Stanwyck in the carriage. That take was used in the film, and the stuntwoman received quadruple pay anyway. And Stanwyck began to perform more and more of her own stunts, particularly in the westerns she made in the 1950s.
De Toth had one final observation: "Stanwyck for me is the softest diamond in the world. The difference between a star and a player is when you have a scene with a star you can let it run just 20 frames longer before you cut. With Barbara you can let it run 24 frames longer."
Over the next two years, Enterprise produced just a handful of films. Although several, including two John Garfield films, Body and Soul (1947) and Force of Evil (1948), and Caught (1949), a film noir directed by Max Ophuls, were critically acclaimed, the company struggled. In the end, another project based on a Remarque work put the final nail in Enterprise's coffin. In 1948, Enterprise took on its biggest project to date, Arch of Triumph, based on Remarque's novel about refugees in prewar Paris, starring Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer. It was a troubled production. The film was cut from four hours to two, characters were dropped, and coherence was lost. Release was delayed, the film cost more than four million dollars to make, and only earned two million. The company folded, and its assets were acquired by the Bank of America. At the time, an executive for United Artists, which released Arch of Triumph, called it "probably the greatest commercial failure in the history of motion pictures."
In his review of The Other Love, New York Times critic Bosley Crowther, noting that the film was the first released by Enterprise, wrote, "for the first quarter hour it appears that this new producing outfit is launched on an adult plan....But no sooner do they establish a credible tolerance between [Stanwyck's character] and her high-priced physician than they quit the mountain top, both physically and artistically, and get down to the familiar level of Hollywood." In other words, high-class soap opera, expertly played, and elegantly presented. Stanwyck fans still turned out. The film did well, and Stanwyck and director De Toth went on to many more successes in their long careers.
Producer: David Lewis
Director: Andr De Toth
Screenplay: Erich Maria Remarque (story); Ladislas Fodor, Harry Brown
Cinematography: Victor Milner
Art Direction: Nathan Juran
Music: Mikls Rzsa
Film Editing: Walter Thompson
Cast: Barbara Stanwyck (Karen Duncan), David Niven (Doctor Anthony Stanton), Richard Conte (Paul Clermont), Gilbert Roland (Croupier), Joan Lorring (Celestine), Lenore Aubert (Yvonne), Maria Palmer (Huberta), Natalie Schafer (Dora Shelton), Edward Ashley (Richard Shelton), Richard Hale (Professor Linnaker)