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Since You Went Away

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Since You Went Away
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJohn Cromwell
Screenplay byDavid O. Selznick
Based onan adaptation of her book
by Margaret Buell Wilder
Produced byDavid O. Selznick
StarringClaudette Colbert
Jennifer Jones
Joseph Cotten
Shirley Temple
Monty Woolley
Lionel Barrymore
Robert Walker
CinematographyStanley Cortez, A.S.C.
Lee Garmes, A.S.C.
Edited byHal C. Kern
(supervising film editor)
James E. Newcom
(associate film editor)
John D. Faure
Arthur Fellows
Wayland M. Hendry[1]
Music byMax Steiner
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
  • July 20, 1944 (1944-07-20) (USA)
Running time
172 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$7 million+[2]

Since You Went Away is a 1944 American epic drama film directed by John Cromwell for Selznick International Pictures and distributed by United Artists. It is an epic about the American home front during World War II that was adapted and produced by David O. Selznick from the 1943 novel Since You Went Away: Letters to a Soldier from His Wife by Margaret Buell Wilder.[3] The music score was by Max Steiner, and the cinematography by Stanley Cortez, Lee Garmes, George Barnes (uncredited), and Robert Bruce (uncredited).

The film is set in a mid-sized American town, where people with loved ones in the armed forces try to cope with their changed circumstances and make their own contributions to the war effort. The town is near a military base, and some of the characters are troops serving Stateside.

Though sentimental in places, Since You Went Away is somber at times about the effects of war on ordinary people. Some characters on the home front are dealing with grief, loneliness, or fear for the future. Wounded and disabled troops are shown in the hospital scenes.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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"This is a story of the Unconquerable Fortress: the American Home...1943" In January 1943, Anne Hilton is an upper-middle-class housewife living in a Midwestern town near a military base with her two teenage daughters, Jane and Bridget ("Brig"). Anne's beloved husband Tim Hilton has volunteered for U.S. Army service in World War II. Anne has just returned from seeing her husband off to Camp Claiborne, and she and her daughters must adjust to Tim's absence and make other sacrifices for the war effort, including food rationing; planting a victory garden; giving up the services of their loyal maid Fidelia who nevertheless offers to continue working part-time for the Hiltons while foregoing wages; and taking in a boarder, the curmudgeonly retired Colonel Smollett. When the Hiltons travel by train in a failed attempt to see Tim one last time before he ships out, they encounter or travel with many other people whose lives have been affected by the war, and they end up not getting to see Tim because their train is delayed to allow a defense supply train to go through first. In contrast, the Hiltons' socialite neighbor Emily Hawkins complains about the inconveniences caused by the war and engages in unsupportive behaviors such as hoarding food and criticizing the Hiltons' efforts.

The Colonel has a strained relationship with his young grandson, Bill Smollett, because Bill "was kicked out" of West Point and is now serving in the U.S. Army as a mere corporal rather than an officer. An old friend of Anne and Tim's, U.S. Navy Lieutenant Tony Willett, also visits the Hiltons while awaiting his orders. Bill quickly falls for Jane, who has a crush on Tony, who in turn has long been attracted to Anne. However, after Tony leaves, Bill and Jane's relationship slowly develops and they fall in love. They become engaged, but Bill convinces Jane to wait until after the war to get married. Bill finally is sent overseas and Jane tearfully runs after his departing train to tell him goodbye. The Colonel, who under his gruff exterior really does care about his grandson, conveys his good wishes to Bill via Anne, but arrives too late to say goodbye in person.

Jane is determined to do more for the war effort and begins volunteering as a nurses' aide at the nearby military hospital, where returning veterans with physical and mental injuries are sent to recover. The family learns via telegram that Tim Hilton is missing in action in the Southwest Pacific. Shortly after Bill's departure, the Hiltons receive word that he was killed in action at Salerno. The Hiltons and the Colonel grieve together for Bill. Jane and Anne finally tell off Emily Hawkins after Emily suggests that it is unseemly for Jane to volunteer at the hospital, and Anne decides she herself must do more to help and trains as a welder for defense work at the shipyard.

Tony returns on leave and talks to Anne about his feelings for her, but she believes that he only keeps her as a romantic ideal because she is married to his friend Tim and therefore unattainable. Anne and Tony decide to leave things as they are and remain friends. On Christmas Eve, Fidelia places gifts under the tree that Tim had given her months earlier to leave for his family, and Anne is moved to tears. Anne then gets a cablegram by telephone informing her that Tim is safe and is coming home, and she and her daughters joyfully embrace. "Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord."


Jennifer Jones and Robert Walker played young sweethearts in the film, but in real life they were married at the time and going through a break-up. They divorced not long after the film was completed (Jones married Selznick after his marriage to Irene Mayer Selznick ended).



According to The New York Times critic Bosley Crowther, Since You Went Away features a script with an "excess of exhausting emotional detail"; Crowther was impressed with the performances, but had issues with the film as a whole:[4]

As the mother and center of the family, Claudette Colbert gives an excellent show of gallantly self-contained emotion, and Jennifer Jones is surpassingly sweet as a well-bred American daughter in the first bloom of womanhood and love. Robert Walker is uncommonly appealing as the young soldier whom she tragically adores, and Shirley Temple, now grown to "teen-age freshness", is pert as the young sister. Monty Woolley makes a full-blown character of the man who comes to lodge; Joseph Cotten is droll as the Navy playboy, and Hattie McDaniel does an Andy-act quite well... No doubt, this would have been a sharper picture if Mr. Selznick had played it in much less time, and it would have been considerably more significant had he kept it somewhat closer to average means. Two hours and fifty-one minutes is a lot of time to harp upon one well-known theme -lonesomeness and anxiety. And that is all this picture really does.

Literary critic Manny Farber, writing in The New Republic registers this appraisal:

Since You Went Away holds religiously to a philosophy consisting in the ideas that only happy, virtuous or funny things happen in the American home, that only the pretty and the brave live there, that any complications should be more than balanced by happy rewards…As a whole, the picture is doughy and inconsequential as the bread you get in the grocery store…For its length, this is as ineffectual a movie as I ever saw.”[5]

The movie was successful and earned $4,950,000 in North American rentals during its theatrical release, and over $7 million in rentals overall.[2][6]


Award Category Nominee Result
Academy Awards[7][8] Best Picture Nominated
Best Actress in a Leading Role Claudette Colbert Nominated
Best Actor in a Supporting Role Monty Woolley Nominated
Best Actress in a Supporting Role Jennifer Jones Nominated
Best Art Direction-Interior Decoration, Black-and-White Mark-Lee Kirk, Victor A. Gangelin Nominated
Best Cinematography, Black-and-White Stanley Cortez, Lee Garmes Nominated
Best Film Editing Hal C. Kern, James E. Newcom Nominated

Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic or Comedy Picture

Max Steiner Won
Best Effects, Special Effects Jack Cosgrove, Arthur Johns Nominated

Home media

Since You Went Away was released to DVD by MGM Home Video on October 19, 2004, in a Region 1 fullscreened DVD. It was later released on Blu-ray by Kino Classics on November 21, 2017.

In popular culture

The farewell scene between Jones and Walker at the railway station was parodied in the film Airplane! (1980).


  1. ^ "Since You Went Away: Full Credits". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved May 17, 2014.
  2. ^ a b c Thomson, David (1993). Showman: The Life of David O. Selznick. Abacus, p. 418.
  3. ^ OCLC 1397161
  4. ^ Since You Went Away, a Film of Wartime Domestic Life, With Claudette Colbert and Others, Opens at the Capitol, a July 21, 1944, review from The New York Times
  5. ^ Farber, 2009 p. 176-177: Composite quote, ellipsis inserted for brevity, meaning unchanged.”
  6. ^ "All-Time Top Grossers", Variety, 8 January 1964 p 69
  7. ^ "The 17th Academy Awards (1945) Nominees and Winners". Retrieved 2013-06-23.
  8. ^ Crowther, Bosley (21 July 1944). "NY Times: Since You Went Away". The New York Times. Retrieved 2020-12-30.


External links

This page was last edited on 5 April 2024, at 21:42
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