Thanks to an alert friend I recently had a chance to see a rarely aired Claude Rains movie, This Love of Ours (1945), which I really enjoyed more than I expected. Even though Rains, (one of my favorite actors) has a smaller than usual but key role, he appeared to be having a wonderful time. His character seemed to blend a quietly bittersweet charm with Mr. Jordan's other-worldly wisdom, Dr. Jacquith's monumental patience and just a dark hint of Hollenius' possessiveness as he strove to help Merle Oberon come to terms with her past. I particularly liked seeing Rains interact with the children in the brightest scenes in the movie at the cathartic birthday party that climaxed the film. While watching it, I repeatedly thought of the actor's own warm relationship with his only child, his daughter, the actress and author, Jessica (née Jennifer) Rains.
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Rains and Carl Esmond bolster an exceptional cast led by Merle Oberon and Charles Korvin very well. The supporting players gave the film's plot a needed goose with their good-natured presence and a dose of common sense whenever the movie threatens to bog down in bathos. The plot line that includes more than one medical miracle, attempted murder and suicide, an unnatural and morbid fixation on the dead, too much quality time between father and daughter to the detriment of the girl's social skills, and more. These proceedings sorely needed the lighter touch provided by Rains and Esmond, along with veteran character actors Harry Davenport and Helen Thimig (aka Mrs. Max Reinhardt, and a fine actress in her own right).
The movie was also greatly enhanced by an Oscar-nominated score Universal's house composer, Hans J. Salter, who conveyed the eeriness and the lyrical qualities of the story through his orchestral music, giving it a cohesion and polish in several scenes when characters are not helped by the script, which was derived from a play by Pirandello (!), and was credited to screenwriters Bruce Manning, John Klorer, and Leonard Lee.