Three sisters attend a celebration of the inauguration of Teddy Roosevelt. Each will marry a man in attendance. Helen marries a millionaire whom she does not love. Grace marries a local man and remains in Montana. Louise elopes with Frank to San Francisco, where he has a sports writing job waiting.
After the miscarriage of their first child, he loses his job when asking for a raise. Louise recovers and takes a job at a department store. Frank decides Louise is better off without him, and joins a crew on a ship bound for China. Louise wakes up to the earthquake and fire, but manages to escape to safety. Visiting Montana, Louise and her sisters attend another celebration, for William Howard Taft, when Frank shows up and asks for another chance.
Errol Flynn ... Frank Medlin
Bette Davis ... Louise Elliott Medlin
Anita Louise ... Helen Elliott Johnson
Ian Hunter ... William Benson
Donald Crisp ... Tim Hazelton
Beulah Bondi ... Rose Elliott
Jane Bryan ... Grace Elliott Knivel
Alan Hale ... Sam Johnson
Dick Foran ... Tom Knivel
Henry Travers ... Ned Elliott
Patric Knowles ... Norman French
Lee Patrick ... Flora Gibbon
Laura Hope Crews ... Flora\'s Mother
Janet Shaw ... Stella Johnson
Harry Davenport ... Doc Moore
This is a charming movie featuring an nonmustached, gorgeous Errol Flynn and a young, lovely Bette Davis. Davis gives a wonderful ingénue performance as the less fortunate of three pharmacist\'s daughters who live and love at the turn of the century (with the action beginning with the election of Roosevelt and ending with the election of Taft). The Davis character marries Errol Flynn, who runs into trouble with employment and alcohol. The other two daughters stay closer to home and do better. Davis, however, is determined to stand by her man and make her marriage work.
It\'s delightful to see these stars in somewhat different roles than they would play later in their careers. They are ably supported by Anita Louise, Jane Bryan, Ian Hunter, Beulah Bondi, Lee Patrick, Dick Foran, Alan Hale, and Laura Hope Crewes.
The Warners film intended to be true to the book - however, the preview cards demanded another ending. I have to say, I like the changed ending as well.
Errol Flynn and Bette Davis did the first of two films together in The Sisters and curiously enough it followed landmark films for both of them, The Adventures of Robin Hood for Flynn and Bette\'s second Academy Award winner, Jezebel.
It was an interesting project for both, but fell somewhat flat at the box office. Still it\'s not a bad film at all and for Flynn it was an attempt to expand his range as player.
Bette\'s usual shtick is held firmly in check my director Anatole Litvak. She\'s one of three daughters of Henry Travers and Beulah Bondi of Broken Bow Montana and the action of the film takes place between Election Day of 1904 and 1908. Shortly after the first election where all three encounter the men they would marry.
For Jane Bryan it\'s Dick Foran, a proper young man of business who soon becomes president of the bank and they settle down to a nice middle class existence. It\'s only threatened when Foran falls victim to the town tart briefly, one of many men in the area.
For Anita Louise, she\'s a naughty flirt who likes romance, but also likes her creature comforts. She marries Alan Hale who\'s the wealthiest guy in town, who\'s also a widower looking for a trophy wife. She lucks into the best of both worlds when he dies leaving her well provided for and free to pursue love in comfort.
But the main plot revolves around Bette Davis who marries newspapermen Errol Flynn, a charming, but essentially weak character. He likes to drink and carouse and even impending fatherhood doesn\'t put a damper on that. He leaves her, purely coincidentally right in the middle of the San Francisco Earthquake.
Some don\'t like Flynn\'s performance, but I think he did fine in the role. The problem was that the brothers Warner filmed two different endings and gave into public opinion in the one you see. Flynn, by the way thought they did the wrong thing. Without giving it away, the ending should have resembled one they gave Four Daughters which was also produced by them in 1938.
Despite the fact that Errol and Bette hated each other they got through the film and it\'s not bad. Look also for good performances from Donald Crisp as Flynn\'s sportswriter friend and Ian Hunter who gives Bette a job after Flynn leaves her and loves her as well.
\"The Sisters\" is not seen often these days. It is a curiosity piece because it\'s a minor Bette Davis film in which she plays an ordinary woman, a departure from some of her other more intense dramas we are more accustomed to seeing. As directed by Anatole Litvak, the film doesn\'t show anything new.
The story about the Eliott sisters from Montana, is mildly interesting. The Eliott household is a happy one. We see them at the beginning of the film as they are preparing for the election night ball in their small town in which Theodore Roosevelt is the winner in the presidential race. The three sisters make a quite an attraction among the young male population because their good looks.
What appears to be a nice family when we first meet them, suddenly fades into memory as the three sisters go in different directions, as life intervenes along the way. Louise, the older sister, proves to be a survivor, if only she has to experience a lot in her own life before real happiness can be achieved. Helen, the beautiful middle sister, marries an older man who offers her security. Grace, the younger one, is the only one to stay in town and marries Tom.
Louise experiences the worst fate of all the sisters when she finds herself abandoned in San Francisco by her husband Frank. He wants to get away from the scene of his failure in order to prove himself worthy of Louise\'s love. By going overseas as a merchant seaman, he wants to see if he can make any good out himself. Louise is in the middle of the 1906 earthquake and loses all she had.
At the end, all sisters are back home on another election night ball as they watch Willliam Taft being proclaimed as president of the nation. Their lives come together at the end, as all find peace.
The most exciting time in the film centers around the vivid scenes of the San Francisco earthquake. It\'s done in a realistic manner. Louise is helped by the next door neighbor, a woman of easy morals, who turned out to be a real friend.
The performances are good, but don\'t expect any sparks from the subdued Louise of Bette Davis. Ms. Davis gives a nuanced performance. The problem is, one expected an over the top star turn by the actress, and her Louise is the epitome of common sense and kindness. Errol Flynn, as Frank, the deserting husband, is seen in a different role as well. He is not as dashing and debonair as in his signature performances, but in spite of playing against type, his take on Frank gives another dimension of his acting range.
The beautiful Anita Louise makes an interesting contribution to the film. Ian Hunter as the kind Mr. Benson, also adds to the picture. The wonderful Lee Patrick plays Flora, the good neighbor, with conviction. Donald Crisp makes another great appearance as Frank\'s friend. Henry Travers and Beulah Bondi are seen as the Eliott sister\'s parents. Jane Bryan, as Grace has some good moments, but she is eclipsed by the more interesting older sisters.
This is a film to watch Bette Davis and Errol Flynn playing roles that are completely different from others we are used to see them in.
# In the novel on which the film was based, the character of Louise Elliott ends up marrying a different man in the denouement.
# Stock footage from Old San Francisco (1927) was used.
# Originally the film credits were to read \"Errol Flynn in The Sisters\", but Bette Davis demanded equal billing alongside Errol Flynn. She also pointed out that the original credits had an unwelcome sexual connotation.