Dodsworth (film)

1936 film by William Wyler

Dodsworth is a 1936 American film about a retired auto manufacturer and his wife who take a long-planned European vacation only to find that they want very different things from life.

Film poster
Ruth Chatterton as Fran Dodsworth and Walter Huston as Sam Dodsworth
Directed by William Wyler. Written by Sidney Howard, based on his 1934 stage adaptation of the 1929 novel of the same name by Sinclair Lewis.

Sam Dodsworth

  • I'm out to make a new life for myself. I'm out to learn how to enjoy my leisure, now I've retired. I've been doing things people expected of me always. I want to feel free. I want to sit under a linden tree with nothing more important to worry about than the temperature of the beer, if there is anything more important.
  • I'm out to see the world I haven't seen and get a perspective on the USA. I might get to know myself at the same time. I might even get to know my wife.
  • Did I remember to tell you today that I adore you?


  • Baroness: Have you thought how little happiness there can be for the old wife of a young husband?


Fran: After 20 years of doing what was expected of us, we're free.
Sam: I'm just as keen on this trip as you are. I'm rarin' to go. I've always wanted to see London and Paris.
Fran: I want much more than a trip out of this, Sam. I want a new life, all over from the very beginning. A perfectly glorious, free, adventurous life.

Fran: Why, if we weren't tied to this half-baked Middle Western town...
Sam: Fran, don't start knocking Zenith.
Fran: Darling, I'm not knocking Zenith. But have you ever thought what Zenith means to me? You go down to the plant and deal in millions and have a marvelous time. I go down to the kitchen and order dinner. Then there's the ladies' luncheon and bridge, always the same ladies. Then dinner... same people we dined with last week. After dinner, poker for the men and women for the women. There's talk of children and doctors and servants and the garden club...
Sam: Thought you liked the garden club.
Fran: I can't go on liking the same things forever and ever. Oh, Sammy darling, I want all the lovely things I've got a right to. In Europe, a woman of my age is just to the point where men begin to take a serious interest in her. I won't be put on the shelf for my daughter when I can still dance longer and better than she can. After all, I've got brains and, thank heavens, I've still got looks. Nobody takes me for over 32. 30 even. Oh Sammy, darling, I'm begging for life. No, I'm not. I'm demanding it.
Sam: I see how you feel. All right, I'll enjoy life now if it kills me, and it probably will.

Sam: She wants me to learn how to enjoy my leisure, now that I'm retired. But what it boils down to - well, I've been doing things myself for a long time now. I thought I'd give things a chance to do something to me.
Edith: The education of an American.
Sam: Yes, you might call it that.
Edith: How long have you given yourself?
Sam: Six months.
Edith: To get all that done?
Sam: Oh, I'll be homesick by then.

Fran: Can't we stay and have our nightcap down here?
Capt. Lockert: Why not?
Fran: We can't go off and leave everything as perfect as this. That'd be ridiculous. I'd like to stay right here and see the dawn.
Capt. Lockert: You don't think he'll roar around the ship and shoot when he finds me here?
Fran: Who, Sam? Oh, no. No, he's got all the old-fashioned virtues, except jealousy.

Sam: You've lived abroad. What's it like?
Edith: That depends on what one's after, as you would say.
Sam: When a man has no more job and his wife wants a fling there are worse things than travel. It wouldn't do for me though. No, not long, it wouldn't. For a steady thing, give me America. For Americans, that is.
Edith: Drifting isn't nearly so pleasant as it looks.
Sam: Why don't you give it up?
Edith: One drifts for lack of a reason to do anything else.
Sam: Well, what do you want?
Edith: What do you suppose any lone woman wants?

Capt. Lockert: You're taking a wickedly unfair advantage of me. I only thought I was doing what was expected of me.
Fran: What I expected of you?
Capt. Lockert: Not you alone, Fran. There's a tradition about this sort of thing. I thought civilized people knew where an innocent flirtation stops. For a civilized woman who's been married as long as you have, you're making a great deal of a small matter.
Fran: It's not a small matter to me. I offer you my most abject apology.
Capt. Lockert: If I might offer you one small word of advice, give up starting things you're not prepared to finish. It's quite evident they only lead you out of your depth.
Fran: You think I'm not equal to your impudence? Look at the exhibition you're making of yourself.
Capt. Lockert: I? Any modern schoolgirl could compete with this situation. You've got the most childish misconception of yourself. You think you're a woman of the world, and you're nothing of the sort.

Fran: You've got to take care of me. You really have, Sam. I don't trust myself. I'm afraid of myself.
Sam: You're afraid, sweetheart?
Fran: Yes, I am. I'm just a wooly American like you after all. If you ever catch me trying to be anything else, will you beat me?
Sam: Well, will I have to beat you very long at a time?
Fran: Oh, Sam, come in and finish your breakfast.

Edith: I hadn't realized it was your birthday.
Fran: No? Wish I hadn't. No woman enjoys getting to be 35.
Edith: When you're my age, you look back on 35 as a most agreeable time of life.
Fran: I hope I look as young as you do when I'm your age.
Edith: You're almost sure to, my dear.

Fran: Why don't you go home?
Sam: Without you?
Fran: Yeah. Get yourself a new lease on life and come back here and join me. Why don't ya?
Sam: I wouldn't want to go home without you.
Fran: I can see you're not enjoying yourself in Paris. I'm only thinking of your pleasure. If you've got a mind, you wouldn't ask me to leave. I just made nice friends.
Sam: I don't think they're so nice. I don't, and I don't see what you see in them.
Fran: They all belong to the smartest crowd in Paris.
Sam: You think the real thing in Paris would hang out with a couple of hicks like us? What else are we? I'm just an ordinary American businessman and I married the daughter of a Zenith brewer who's flying high these days.
Fran: I suppose you know what you mean by that.
Sam: Why won't you sit at a cafe with me?
Fran: Smart people don't.
Sam: I'm not smart.
Fran: I am.
Sam: You ought to be smart enough not to care what people think.

Fran: Oh, you're hopeless. You haven't the mistiest notion of civilization here.
Sam: Yeah, well, maybe I don't think so much of it, though. Maybe clean hospitals, concrete highways, and no soldiers along the Canadian border come near my idea of civilization. There are 20 million automobiles in America. Now, I've contributed something to every single one of them from my own personal civilization. And if that isn't more than knowing how to order dinner as your friend the madam...
Fran: You don't want to learn. I could teach you. I belong here. They accept me here.
Sam: Yeah? Well, I'm gonna get out of this town and back to doing something, and take you along.
Fran: Well, I'm not going, Sam.
Sam: Oh, yes, you are.
Fran: No, I'm not. I think you and I need a vacation from each other.
Sam: Well, I don't feel that way about it. I think I've been weak with you long enough.
Fran: Besides, I've rented a villa with Renee for the summer at Montreux on Lake Geneva in Switzerland. I've signed the lease.
Sam: Well, I think you might have told me.
Fran: I got my own money.

Sam: Fran, my darling, you're not drifting away from me.
Fran: I hope not.
Sam: Oh, no. You and I, Fran, after all these years. All right, I'll give it up. I won't go home.
Fran: But, you've, you've got to go home. You've simply got to. I can't stand being torn like this any longer. Oh, I'm sorry for all the mean things I've said to you. But if you and I are gonna go on together, you've simply got to let me alone this summer. Oh, don't look so hurt, and please don't be angry. Oh, be as angry as you like, if it does any good! Remember, I, I did make a home for you once, and I'll do it again, only you've got to let me have my fling now! Because you're simply rushing at old age, Sam, and I'm not ready for that yet.

Sam: You want to divorce me then?
Fran: Why should I want to divorce you? You're my husband.
Sam: You couldn't very well divorce me if I weren't.

Sam: Have things got this bad, Fran? I'm too tired to talk tonight. If things have got this bad, they've got to stop altogether. Now, I'm willing to do anything I can to make you happy. I love you. You know that. But if we're going on together, as you said to me back in Paris, I'm saying it now, if we are going on together, we've got to beat it right back home where we belong.
Fran: Is that your idea of making me happy?
Sam: I'm not taking any more chances on another Arnold Iselin. Oh, I know this friendship with Kurt is harmless enough, but you might get fascinated.
Fran: You think I might? You really think I might? Well, I love Kurt, and Kurt loves me, and I'm going to marry him. He asked me tonight...You've never known me. You've never known anything about me, not what I had on or thought or the sacrifices I've made....I'll be happy with Kurt. I'm fighting for life! You can't drag me back!
Sam: Will you get your divorce here?
Fran: Yes, I suppose so.
Sam: I wish you'd put it off for a couple of months.
Fran: Why?
Sam: I'd like you to feel sure of Kurt. That's all.
Fran: Well, it's my funeral now, isn't it?
Sam: Yes, I guess so. I'll have to get used to that idea. I guess I can.

Edith: Let's sit down, if you've got a moment.
Sam: Time is something I have nothing else but.
Edith: How's Mrs. Dodsworth? I remember her with much pleasure.
Sam: She's fine. I haven't got her along this trip.
Edith: She doesn't like traveling?
Sam: Does anyone? I expect most people travel to get away from themselves. I've been at it three months now. I'm glad to hear why.
Edith: Alone?
Sam: I'm getting used to it now. All museums look alike. All American Express offices look alike.
Edith: You knew I live here. You might've looked me up.
Sam: I've gotten out of the way of looking folks up.
Edith: The education, how's that coming along?
Sam: I gave it up. I found myself learning things I didn't want to learn.

Sam: Edith, I've spent six short weeks with you in this house, and I can't imagine ever being without you again.
Edith: I can't imagine being without you, either. I think I must love you a great deal.
Sam: God bless you for that.

Sam: She's dropped the divorce. She's going home on the Rex day after tomorrow from Naples. I've got to go with her.
Edith: I won't let you.
Sam: What else can I do?
Edith: I won't let you go back to her.
Sam: I know this is a jolt. It's a jolt to me too.
Edith: I won't see you killed by her selfishness.
Sam: You don't understand. It'll be tough on her with all the talk there'll be.
Edith: I love you, and she doesn't. You're miserable with her.
Sam: I know.
Edith: A moment ago, you had the whole world in your hands. I won't let her take it away from you.
Sam: She's not taking it away.
Edith: You were a young man a minute ago. I know everything's starting again. You shriveled the same way, every letter you got from her.
Sam: I can't think.
Edith: You're wrong to go back...
Sam: Please, be fair. She's in a hole. She needs me.
Edith: She does not need you, and you might think of me.
Sam: I am thinking of you.
Edith: One word from her, and you trot back.
Sam: You've got to be patient with me.
Edith: What is this hold she has over you?
Sam: I've got to take care of her. A man's habits get pretty strong in 20 years. I'll go into town and make the reservations. It's giving you up that hurts.

Fran: I do think you might meet me halfway. After all, as I look back, I don't blame myself. I can't really. You were a good deal at fault too.
Sam: Steward.
Steward: Yes, sir.
Sam: Take this check, go to suite seven on B deck...get the suitcase with that number on it and bring it here right away. [to Fran] I'm not sailing with you.
Fran: You're not sailing?
Sam: No, I'm not. You and I can't make a go of things any longer.
Fran: This is the man I loved for 20 years.
Sam: This is the man who's loved you.
Fran You haven't learned a single thing from all our sorrows. And I flattered myself you really wanted to come back to me. I tried, didn't I? I might've known you'd be just the same, yet I gave you another chance.
Sam: I'm not taking another chance, because I'm through, finished.
Fran: What's going to become of me?
Sam: You'll stop getting younger someday.
Fran: Are you going back to that washed-out expatriate in Naples?
Sam: Yes, and when I marry her, I'm going back to doing things.
Fran: Do you think you'll ever get me out of your blood?
Sam: Maybe not. But love has got to stop someplace short of suicide.
[Dodsworth runs to the gangplank and jumps on just as it is lowered away from the ship. The boat whistle sounds.]
Steward: But the gentleman will miss the boat!


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