The tributes to Fred and Ginger can be found HERE from December 28th to 30th.
People reach out to other people instinctually. Often times, behavior and circumstances keep us from doing so, giving us the feeling of perpetually being on the outside looking in. Some people seem to know how to navigate life while others wonder if they will ever know the secret.
furlough (noun): 1. a leave of absence granted to a governmental or institutional employee (such as a soldier or civil servant), Merriam-Webster
Sgt. Zachary Morgan is on furlough from an army hospital. He is shell-shocked (PTSD) from his time in the Pacific. Zach has medals that attest to his bravery and a Purple Heart to indicate he was wounded. His mind is taking a long time to recover. The doctors have given Zach advice and reassurances he will be able to handle two weeks over the Christmas holiday reacquainting himself with civilian life.
Joseph Cotten stars as Zach Morgan in a charming and gut-wrenching performance. He is charming in his attempts to reconnect with the world "back home" and breaks our heart when overwhelmed by the memories of Guadalcanal that will probably never fade. Zach is on his own fighting with the horrors of battle, the horrors of his cure, and his fear of failure.
Zach (to himself): "Don't get worried, Zach. That bayonet wound is all healed, but the wound in your mind is going to take a little more time. That's why the doctors gave you this ten day leave from the hospital --- to prove to you that you can go out in the world again and find a place for yourself. It's going to take a little while to get your timing back. You'll still drop things and be a little slow, but you'll get well. They told you you would. The important thing is not to get too tired, not to give in. Then you won't get any of those things that wind up with a shot in the arm, or a tub or that little room with a barred window. You can fight those things off, Zach, if you believe that you'll get well."
Mary Marshall is on furlough from a Women's Prison where she is serving what her family considers to be an unjust sentence. She has been a model prisoner and is allowed the consideration of a Christmas with her uncle, aunt, and teenaged cousin.
Ginger Rogers stars as Mary Marshall, a young woman who wins our sympathy while dealing with her twin burdens of imaginary confidence and confusion. The world has changed during her years "inside" and she is marked with the stain of her conviction.
Home is a place called Pinehill. It is the home of Uncle Henry played by Tom Tully, Aunt Sarah played by Spring Byington, and Barbara played by Shirley Temple. They represent the normal life that Mary now feels she can never attain. The Marshall family unit is open-hearted and welcoming to Mary. The family enjoys the easy, teasing way of people who have lived together and think they understand each other.
Sarah is more philosophical than you might think. She worries about Mary and wants to make things work out for her. This exchange between the characters is the homey set of the kitchen speaks many truths.
Aunt Sarah: "Honey, you've got to stop being afraid. You've got to stop feeling that you're branded like people were in the old days. You've done something. You're paying your debt to society. Most people are willing to let it go at that."
Mary: "I know, Aunt Sarah, but coming out into the world and seeing everybody in uniform, everybody doing something --- I just don't belong. I don't fit in. And dreams that I've had for the future are just impossible."
Aunt Sarah: "Well, most dreams are, Mary. It's just the dreaming that counts. Nobody gets exactly what he wants out of life. One of the first things you learn is to make compromises with your dreams."
Uncle Henry and Aunt Sarah have been less than forthcoming to their daughter Barbara about Mary's troubles and the teen is curious and repelled by the thought of sharing her room with a convict. Barbara's lack of maturity leads to a strained relationship with her cousin. Eventually, it is Mary's honesty that brings them together.
Zach and Mary met on the train to Pinehill. It was not Zach's destination but he impulsively concocts a story of a sister in town and gets off the train determined to meet Mary again. What could be more normal than to follow up an attraction to an appealing traveling saleslady? You see, Zach and Mary have secrets to keep from each other.
Zach is the first to open up about his recovery process. The welcoming from the Marshalls and the kind support of Mary appears to be a major step in his healing. His gratitude is quickly turning to love. Mary is falling in love with the sweet and troubled man and fears that her reality, as opposed to what he sees, will cause a setback.
Those year-end milestones Christmas and New Year's Eve are celebrated with the attendant rise and fall of emotions. The furloughs are coming to an end, but what about the relationships forged with genuine feeling and one pitiable and looming lie?
Charles Martin's radio play Double Furlough first aired in October of 1943 starring Gertrude Lawrence and James Cagney. David Selznick Studios (Since You Went Away) produced the 1944 film directed by William Dieterle (Portrait of Jennie) from Marion Parsonnet's (Gilda) screenplay.
I'll Be Seeing You by Sammy Fain and Irving Kahan was written in 1938 and with its romantic longing became a popular tune during the war years. It has been recorded by many great artists. Two of my favourite recordings are by Bing Crosby and Billie Holiday, both from 1944.