Mary Archer (Barbara Stanwyck), a beautiful and young American girl, is patiently awaiting the return of her friend(/sometimes boyfriend) Jeff (Ralph Bellamy) from active duty in Germany.

(Image: Via Margutta 51)
(Image: Via Margutta 51)

When Jeff finally does return, he brings back a German friend named Hugo (Otto Kruger). Rather than taking up a romance with Jeff as she had expected, Mary falls for Hugo. (I would have marked that as a minor spoiler, but did anyone really think Bellamy was going to get the girl in this one?)

The two eventually marry and live a quite prosperous life. Hugo works at a college, and their marriage is a happy one.

But when World War I reaches its end and anti-German sentiment begins to penetrate America, troubles arise for the couple, including pressure from Mary’s family for Hugo to denounce his heritage.

Archie Mayo directs the 1933 drama Ever in My Heart. The film was written by Beulah Marie Dix and Bertram Millhauser.

I watched this film back-to-back with The Secret Bride, which you may remember from the last Barbara Stanwyck filmography update I wasn’t a huge fan of. In comparison, this one has so much  more energy from the start that it was bound to win me over at least partially.

Once again, Stanwyck gives a great performance in this film. She’s very endearing and likable. Her performance, in combination with that of Kruger and the chemistry between them, ensures that the viewer will care about the film’s characters and plot.

(Image: Film Affinity)
(Image: Film Affinity)

Ever in My Heart is a bit of a mixed bag in terms of themes and significance. It deals with political drama, anti-immigrant/anti-German sentiment, the very strained relations between Americans and “foreigners,” the pressures of family and society to conform. The effect that prejudice has on what was a lovely marriage between Mary and Hugo provokes thought from the viewer that is still relevant in today’s world.

The highly emotional performances of both Stanwyck and Kruger really carry the film and make the viewer become invested in the story, but there is solid support here as well. These supporting performances are believable, but never overpower the leads. They stay in the background and out of the film’s true spotlight while also provoking feeling from the viewer, and especially the viewer who sympathizes with Stanwyck and Kruger’s characters.

An unexpected ending keeps up the somber mood of the film. Ever in My Heart fits perfectly on the list of Stanwyck’s great dramatic roles. The score: 4/5