You Belong to Me (1941)

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This film was viewed for the Barbara Stanwyck Filmography Project. To see more reviews from this project, visit the project index!

Peter Kirk (Henry Fonda) is having a fun day on the slopes, until he crashes. But the crash turns out to be a happy accident. He lands at the feet of Helen Hunt (Barbara Stanwyck), a beautiful doctor vacationing at the same ski resort.

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(Image via Movie Poster Shop)

Naturally, he chooses Helen to be the physician in charge of his recovery. Peter is flirtatious from the start, but Helen keeps it professional… until she begins to reciprocate his feelings.

The pair decides to marry, but will Peter be able to handle Helen’s hectic on-call schedule… or the fact that she serves many good-looking male patients?

You Belong to Me was directed by Wesley Ruggles. The screenplay was written by Claude Binyon from a story by Dalton Trumbo.

Fonda and Stanwyck reunited! Their chemistry is wonderful as always, and early on in the film they share a bit of fun banter (as well as a few super cute scenes). Their quirky meet-cute has Stanwyck struggling to ski, while Fonda does flips on his skis. Inevitably, they collide, and romance ensues.

But, sadly, this is no The Lady Eve, or The Mad Miss Manton — the two other Fonda co-starring films, both of which land among my favorite Stanwyck films. While things start out pretty adorably, Fonda’s character becomes a big baby! Losing his mind and spying through keyholes because he’s jealous that his wife has male patients, he makes for a pretty obnoxious character. The film makes clear that he’s a total idiot, never siding with him, but he still gets tiring to watch.

A bit more time could have been spent developing the relationship between the two characters before jumping into the jealousy plot. (They could have at least given us a cute little courtship montage!)

On the positive, Stanwyck’s character is ahead of her time, a woman doctor who shuts up her critics with not only a hearty dose of sass, but an encyclopedic knowledge of her field. And while the path to get there is strange (taking an odd turn near the end, with a department-store-employee revolt against Fonda), the ending is happy and cute.

If you’re not a Stanwyck die-hard, it would serve you better to visit one of the other Stanwyck and Fonda collaborations, but for classic fanatics and “Fanwycks,” You Belong to Me is still worth a watch.

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2 thoughts on “You Belong to Me (1941)

  1. I love “You Belong to Me” and think every moment between Missy and Hank is wonderful. I can understand why Fonda’s character is jealous with a very beautiful wife so often in the company of male patients — who he fears are just like him.

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