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The Proud and the Profane

1956 | 4:3 | BLACK & WHITE | Quality: Excellent

Joan Fontaine

William Holden

Thelma Ritter



The Proud and Profane is an intriguing examination of the tolls of war upon the lives of several primary characters stationed in Guadalcanal and/or Bataan, in the South Pacific, during World War II. Deborah Kerr is Lee Ashley, a recent WW2 Red Cross volunteer who really only signed up to seek information about the death of her soldier husband and finds herself extremely ill-suited for her duties. William Holden is Colin Black - a heartless and opportunistic man who decides he wants Ashley as his next prize. Thelma Ritter is Kate Conners, a tough but caring nurse who tries repeatedly to set Ashely straight, all the while dealing with the challenges of her overworked and understaffed nursing outfit (and, as usual, she is the real highlight of the movie). Before the end of the film, the two main stars will be severely humbled for their selfishness in a number of ways - including an absolutely heartbreaking scene at the grave of Ashley's late husband.

Without a single depiction of battle, the filmmakers very effectively confront us with the psychological impacts of war throughout this intelligently-written picture. This was a strange outing for William Holden, who usually played characters with dignity and charm, but here he is a complete scumbag - there really are almost no redeeming qualities to his character, Colin Black, and Deborah Kerr really had a challenge put before her when tasked with making us believe any woman would ever fall for him. As usual, Thelma Ritter completely steals every scene she's in while delivering the most memorable lines, injecting some welcome humor, and dishing out frank common sense advice.

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