With Van Heflin and Barbara Stanwyck in the lead, B.F.’s Daughter turns out to be a pleasing drama that sees the two in and out of love with each other, the former a man of humble origins and the latter privileged more than most. It is that disparity in their origins that drives them apart after finally coming together and the foil that keeps them from realizing that they still love each other through ups and downs and the Second World War until that is, they finally do.
Though Van Heflin might be a star in his own right and a man who excels in playing the more down-to-earth characters that he encompasses here, Stanwyck shines next to him, always seeming to be bigger than the material she was given and larger than those she co-stars with. Also helping to bolster the picture is the truly wonderful Charles Coburn who can never do wrong no matter the picture he is in as well as Keenan Wynn as a somewhat jaded reporter and comedy relief and last but not least, Richard Hart and Margaret Lyndsay. The only disappointing thing about having these great supporting characters in the picture was the fact that their roles were not any bigger than they were, but Coburn at the very least had a decent part as his character’s name just so happened in the title of the movie, not to mention providing a bit of the friction felt between the two lovebirds.
While the film is engaging and the story strong enough for the big screen, it could have used a little something extra, something to make it pop a little more so that it might drive that melodrama home or some wartime action to not only make it a little more exciting, but make the distance between husband and wife a little more poignant. Be that as it may, director Robert Z. Leonard does a good job at making it all come to life from Luther Davis’ script and it helps that Stanwyck and Heflin have an established chemistry between them, the two having already starred across from each other in The Strange Love of Martha Ivers. This comes across perfectly during the first half of the picture where the two first fall in love, the courtship and the marriage that would follow and when Brett as played by Heflin would start to make it big in his career. It never really goes off the rails as it were, but the second half is not nearly as strong as the first which turned out to be a bit of a shame, but still enjoyable nonetheless.
As far as romance films go or simply the all-encompassing drama as it were, B.F.’s Daughter is not a bad one, but it is not as good as The Clock or Random Harvest or any number of movies released during the same time period which fall into this particular genre. It is worth a look for those that follow any of the actors and actresses within, but more than anything it is Stanwyck that will draw the eye from the first moment to the last, a feat she was able to accomplish throughout most of her career.
3 out of 5