Barbara Stanwyck plays a woman who is dying which is never easy, whether one knows about it or not. Planning for the future, much less having a future, is almost impossible to do, for hope is hard to come by and all that is left is living for the moment and making every one of them count. Such is the case in The Other Love, a dramatic feature from 1947 also starring David Niven and Richard Conte.
The film begins with Stanwyck’s character Karen Duncan, a famous pianist, being committed to a Swedish sanatorium so that she might get some rest as she has been feeling run down as of late. Unknown to Karen and though it is never explicitly spelt out, it is assumed that she has Tuberculosis due to the doctor recommending that she quit smoking immediately while constantly taking x-rays of her lungs and chest. Over the course of the film, Karen takes her doctor’s advice thinking it a little strict but doing so anyway. That all comes to stop when a confluence of events takes place, the first being the meeting of a man in Conte who is everything that the doctor as played by Niven is not and whom she is falling in love with. The second is the death of her friend as portrayed by Joan Lorring and finally the revelation of just how sick she really is, a truth that she finds almost too much to bear. In true Hollywood fashion, Karen flees with Paul, her soon-to-be lover, trying to escape her fate and finding that doing so is impossible despite her giving it her best.
While the movie plays out as one would expect, as clichéd as it might seem, due to the performances of the A-list cast and the more than able direction of Andre DeToth, it makes it all eminently watchable. Stanwyck is in fine form as a woman torn between wanting to live in the now and wanting to live a full life, not to mention her heart torn between two men. Conte and Niven are both as smooth as they come, the former a playboy unaware of what is going on and the latter having had years of experience placating his patients, so much so that the women at least, always tend to fall in love with him. In this case, both men are in love with Karen and she with them creating some truly fine melodrama. If there were one thing that would have set this film apart from others of its ilk, it would have been having Karen die, bucking that classic happy ending though, given the way the picture did leave off, there is no way to tell whether Karen lived a full and happy life or died the very next day.
What is most interesting about it all is the fact that the characters in this film are all not what they appear to be, each one hiding something whether that is their true nature, their feelings or the simple truth of the matter. One could say The Other Love is a movie about deception, of deceiving others and deceiving one’s self and they would be right, but it is also about confronting that absolute truth, that there is a time limit on one’s life and nobody likes to face it or believe that it will one day come due. With drama, romance and tension aplenty, Stanwyck captivates again about a woman who eventually realizes that there is more than one way to live a life.
3.5 out of 5