Betrayal at the hands of a loved one is never easy, much less forgiving them and yet, that is exactly what Jessie Bourne did when her husband cheated on her. Love it seems, can overcome and Jessie loves her husband so much so, that forgiving him was all she could do. Brandon also loves Jessie in return, but when Isabel Lorrison returns to town, the woman he previously had an affair with, betrayal is in the cards again especially as Isabel is determined to steal Brandon away for good.
East Side, West Side stars Barbara Stanwyck as Jessie, the socialite who loves her husband and who does an incredible job with the role, not playing the unassuming woman as most would think, but one that is fully aware of who and what her husband has done and the risk of it happening again. That, of course, does indeed come into play with Ava Gardner being the other woman in the relationship, a woman hell-bent on not letting the one thing she wants most to slip through her fingers again. While Brandon, as played by James Mason, seems earnest in his feelings for Jessie, what he feels for Isabel is something else entirely, something stronger and deeper and when confronted with it, finds that he cannot overcome them despite wanting to for the sake of his marriage. The three-way relationship that takes place proves heart-breaking for Jessie and is soon joined by another in the form of Van Heflin who has decided to fall in love with Stanwyck and from there, things get more and more complicated until finally, it all ends in murder.
The acting as one might guess is top-notch in this MGM produced film, the cast being especially good and given the names present, it is not surprising. Again, Stanwyck was superb and proved that she could carry a picture no matter who she was surrounded with. Thankfully it was made easier due to Isobel Lennart’s screenplay and some solid direction courtesy of Mervyn LeRoy who made this soap quite easy to digest. Even with Van Heflin, Mason and Gardner on-hand, there would still be room for Cyd Charisse in a small role as a model who would end up ‘saving’ Mason’s character early on in the movie and be the catalyst for Jessie’s realization that there are other fish in the sea, not to mention Nancy Davis – the future Mrs. Reagan and William Conrad. Those involved would make the film worth watching for their names alone and yet thankfully, it would all pull together into a truly entertaining picture.
If there was one thing that the movie did not necessarily need, it was the death of a main character towards the conclusion. It would take nothing away from the film and one could say that it might have been necessary in order that Jessie be able to open her eyes, but it really never added anything either when it came down to it, Jessie most likely being able to sort out what she was feeling another way at another point in time. Still, it did add a bit of excitement and mystery to an otherwise captivating drama, ending with Stanwyck standing tall as she would in most of the movies she starred in.
4 out of 5