If you love “small town girl goes to the city to forge a career” movies as much as I do, then you’ll want to check out the almost-forgotten A Life of Her Own by George Cukor (even if Cukor himself didn’t like it much.)
This movie did nothing to lessen my dislike of Ray Milland. However, if you think Lana Turner was just a pretty face and figure, her performance in this movie should convince you otherwise (even though at 30 she is too old for this part.)
Two other actresses almost steal the movie from Turner:
Ann Dvorak is perfectly cast as the bitter aging model, and Margaret Phillips as the invalid wife.
And the costumes — a crime in a movie about the fashion world — are indeed mostly awful.
George Cukor’s 1950 melodrama “A Life of Her Own” (which I discuss in this clip) takes place in the splashy milieu of New York fashion modelling and the social whirl that surrounds it. But Cukor keeps the movie—and its protagonist, Lily James (played by Lana Turner)—amazingly inward and tamped-down. It’s as if the entire film, with its breath-holding look at the catastrophic love of a single woman for a married man, stays hushed in anticipation of romantic disaster. The majesty of melodrama is the exaltation of everyday people and the revelation of tragedy in the conflicts that they face. That’s also the source of melodrama’s potential for absurdity, and the reason why it veers readily into (intentional) comedy and why (unintentionally) it often elicits laughter at moments of the greatest and noblest passion. Tragedy—which yokes its grand tone to the greatness of its characters and situations, putting large-scale history on the line—comes with a degree of awe built in. But melodrama, to be effective, depends on exquisite taste and delicate control of tone. Perhaps no filmmaker achieves those two elements as consistently and with as much variety as does Cukor, who is also the director of the greatest musical melodrama, the 1954 version of “A Star Is Born.”