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Hold Back the Dawn
The Golden Door / Memo to a Movie Director

USA 1941
produced by
Arthur Hornblow jr for Paramount
directed by Mitchell Leisen
starring Charles Boyer, Olivia de Havilland, Paulette Goddard, Victor Francen, Walter Abel, Curt Bois, Rosemary DeCamp, Eric Feldary, Nestor Paiva, Eva Puig, Micheline Cheirel, Madeleine Lebeau, Billy Lee, Mikhail Rasumny, Charles Arnt, Arthur Loft, Mitchell Leisen, Brian Donlevy, Veronica Lake, Richard Webb, June Wilkins, Leon Belasco, George Anderson, John Hamilton, Harold Landon
screenplay by Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder, based on the story Memo to a Movie Producer by Ketti Frings, music by Victor Young

review by
Mike Haberfelner

Available on DVD !

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Romanian Georges Isovescu (Charles Boyer) has been a dancer (and gigolo on the side), touring Europe with some success - but then the war broke out, and he fled to Mexico, in hopes of making it into the USA that way ... but US Immigration is in no hurry to let all the fugitives in, instead has installed a quota system, forcing Isovescu, and scores of other, to wait in a little border town, doing basically next to nothing, with no idea when and if the journey to the US will proceed. In the little border town Isovescu meets his old dancing partner Anita (Paulette Goddard), who tells him about her scheme to marry an American which would speed up the immigration process considerably - and as fate has it, Isovescu meets young Emmy Brown (Olivia de Havilland), a naive American school teacher on a trip to Mexico with her class, soon after that, sees to it that their car breaks down to keep them in Mexico for a night - time enough to make her fall in love with him and actually marry him. The next day, when she leaves with her class he waves her good bye, he intends to never see her again but make it across the border once his papers are cleared, and then relaunch his dancing career with Anita in New York ... but then Emmy returns to surprise him - she has taken a week off so they can have their honeymoon together - and just in time when immigration inspector Hammock (Walter Abel) wants to investigate scam marriages between Americans and foreigners. As he fears Hammock would make Emmy see through his scheme and she would annul their marriage, he decides to go on a impromptu romantic trip through the country with her ... and wouldn't you know it, he gradually falls in love with her.

However, when they return to the border town, Anita senses he might not follow through with their scheme to make it to New York, and thus opens Emmy's eyes to who Isovescu really is, and though she doesn't annul the marriage when Hammock tries to convince her to, she leaves in tears - and back at the American side of the border, she has a terrible car accident that puts her into a coma. And now Isovescu knows what he has to do, be at her side when she wakes up, at whatever cost (and that cost could be high indeed, like being banned from the USA for good) ...


Now I won't for one moment claim that this movie is entirely kitsch-free (especially the happy ending is a bit too much), but it also shows how great Hollywood romances could be back in the day: Not only is the story skillfully structured, it also presents us with fleshed out characters who each have their own arc, it's beautifully put together, is set in the movie's here and now instead of telling some far-fetched fairy tale, and the entire cast is first rate. So if you're at all into classic Hollywood, and no matter whether or not into romances (not my favourite genre by the way), you're more likely than not to really dig this movie!


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review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD