Daisy Kenyon

Gasser

Daisy Kenyon (1947)

     I have said (to myself) for a while now that Otto Preminger films never disappoint. I’m not implying that Daisy Kenyon is a let down, but it is not the sort of film for which I have come to know Preminger. It is a romance, quite unlike the mysteries, often murder mysteries, of his other work. This movie does, however,  have the darker feel and shadowy cinematography/mise-en-scene that one can identify with the director.

     Joan Crawford‘s Daisy is the girlfriend of Dana Andrew‘s Dan, who is a married attorney with two daughters. At the film’s start, Dan visits Daisy, smooches her a bit and is on his way, running into soldier Peter (Henry Fonda) on his way out, knowing full well the man is Daisy’s date. Neither male party seems off put with Daisy’s dating habits, and Peter nearly instantly falls in love with her. Dan’s wife is aware of her husband’s affair, but deals with it, to an extent taking her anger out on one of the daughters.

     Daisy eventually agrees to marry Peter, a widower, but after losing an important case, Dan forces himself on Daisy, angering her significantly. Later that night he tries to apologize via telephone, but when his wife snoops on the call a significant row begins and drives the wife to seek a divorce. If Dan will agree to relinquish custody of the girls, the wife will settle out of court. If not, a scandalous trial will ensue and Daisy will be drug into it. Dan gets both Daisy and Peter to agree to the trial route, but when Daisy is on the stand and the questioning gets too personal, Dan calls it quits.

     Divorced, Dan is interested in being with Daisy and assumes Peter will bow out, which he nearly does. When Dan approaches him with divorce papers, Peter says he wants Daisy to sign first. At this point Daisy is unsure what she wants, and it is anyone’s guess with whom she will end up.

     The trouble with Daisy Kenyon is that despite being a romance, the viewer does not get any warm, fuzzy feelings from watching it. Whereas Fonda plays Peter as a man who accepts his subordination to his wife’s other love interest, Andrews is quite cold in his affections for the title character. Although the viewer might spend the last half hour trying to predict with whom the protagonist will choose, one cannot actually find merit in either choice. I’m not sure if this is a deliberate approach, but it is one that left me caring little for the final outcome. Crawford, however, does give us the only emotion in the film, and one can understand her feelings when she seems to convey that she wants neither of them.

  • Daisy Kenyon is set for 8 p.m. ET April 22 on TCM.
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