Q&A with Catherine Wyler, Melanie Wyler, and Kenneth Lonergan
This worldly, richly layered adaptation of Sinclair Lewis’s 1929 novel is one of the triumphs of the storied career of director William Wyler—and that’s saying a lot. A stoic yet tender Walter Huston brilliantly inhabits the title character, a newly retired Midwestern auto magnate whose marriage to the perpetually dissatisfied Fran (early talkies star Ruth Chatterton in perhaps her finest role) is put to the test during an extended voyage to Europe. Mary Astor, David Niven, and Paul Lukas round out the luminous supporting cast as the various objects of flirtation who guide the Dodsworths as they change life’s course. Considered a high watermark of Hollywood sophistication upon release, this Samuel Goldwyn production (a Retrospective selection in NYFF24) increasingly feels like a singular movie about the variable definitions of American progress, with Wyler effortlessly depicting the shifting tides of marriage with restraint and maturity. Restored by the Academy Film Archive and The Film Foundation, in association with The Samuel Goldwyn Jr. Family Trust, with funding provided by the George Lucas Family Foundation.