At the Paramount and Fenway
If ever a picture had a chance to make a name for itself as a work of art instead of a box-office phenomenon, "This Above All" was it. Two basic human themes are woven into this story of people adrift in the currents of war--love for a woman and love for a country. But with almost depressing inevitability the picture shifts the emphasis of the best-selling novel, until by the end, it is obvious that the hybrid product is more the work of Hollywood than Eric Knight.
Tyrone Power as the embittered and moody Clive Brooks is as miscast as any actor in Hollywood could be. Gone is the novel's prematurely aged man who has endured hell at Dunkirk, and who, feeling that his nation's social system is not worth fighting for, has deserted from the army. Instead, the audience is treated to the spectacle of a dashing lover who tries his hardest to be convincing with consistent failure.
Few roles have been more sympathetically played, however, than Joan Fontaine as Prudence Cathaway, a very human daughter of a frigid and aristocratic British family. Her enlistment in the WAAF and her subsequent love for Clive are convincing where it would be easiest to become theatrical. Thomas Mitchell as the faithful Monty shares with Miss Fontaine the acting honors of the film. In his blind faith for England and his earthy view of life, he is as true to the spirit of the book as Tyrone Power is false.
Aside from being crippled by a glaring miscast in the hero's role, the picture suffers obviously from the fact that the love theme is reduced to the familiar formula--boy meets girl on Hays Office terms. The ending of the picture is a complete reverse, Clive lives and makes an honest woman of Pure by marrying her. Thus what might have been a moving and convincing story of two lives, becomes a confused and completely banal hodgepodge.