Synopsis by Hal Erickson
The 1938 filmization of Myron Brinig's novel The Sisters stars Bette Davis, Jane Bryan and Anita Louise as Louise, Grace and Helen Elliot. The daughters of turn-of-the-century druggist Henry Travers and his wife Beulah Bondi, the Elliot girls all meet their future husbands at a 1904 ball in honor of President Teddy Roosevelt. Special emphasis is given the relationship between Louise and reckless, irresponsible newspaperman Frank Medlin (Errol Flynn). Feeling trapped by his marriage, Medlin turns to drink and philandering. When Frank eventually runs off to Singapore, Louise is too proud to hold her husband by informing him that she's pregnant. Caught up in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake (superbly conveyed with a single interior shot of a collapsing apartment), Louise wanders around dazedly until she finds shelter in an Oakland brothel (though it is not so specified). She loses her baby, but is consoled by her employer Ian Hunter, who falls in love with her. The original book ended with Louise giving up her unhappy marriage for a joyous relationship with her boss; the film ends with Louise being reunited with the suddenly sobered Frank (despite the protests of both Bette Davis and Errol Flynn). A prime example of Hollywood Soap Opera, The Sisters also yielded an amusing reel of outtakes, the best of which shows Bette Davis breaking up Errol Flynn by sighing "I've just had a baby in the ladies' room."
sister, family, marriage, philandering, pharmacist, pregnancy, alcoholism, brothel, earthquake, journalism