Film: Since You Went Away

Since You Went Away is a black-and-white drama film from 1944, directed by John Cromwell.

The Hiltons are a well-to-do family living somewhere in Flyover Country. Patriarch Tim Hilton has just left for service in World War II when the movie starts, leaving his wife Anne (Claudette Colbert) and their daughters Jane (Jennifer Jones) and Brig (16-year-old Shirley Temple) to cope with life on the home front while Tim is away. Forced to save money after losing Tim's civilian salary, the Hiltons take in a boarder, Col. Smollett (Monty Woolley), whose grandson Bill (Robert Walker) falls for Jane.

Also stars Joseph Cotten as Navy Lt. Tony Willett, an old friend of the Hilton family who obviously carries a torch for Anne. Produced by David O. Selznick for United Artists. Nominated for a large passel of Oscars, and won some of the minor ones.


  • Altar the Speed: Lampshaded and then averted. Jane and Bill discuss getting married right away just before the Train-Station Goodbye, but decide against it.
  • Anyone Can Die: Well, not anybody, but anybody who's left for the war.
  • The Cameo: Lionel Barrymore has one short scene as a clergyman.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: One of the main plot elements is Jane growing from immature teenaged girl to a grown woman.
  • Dances and Balls: The town puts on a dance for the soldiers at the local Army base, complete with girls brought in to dance with the soldiers.
  • Death by Childbirth: The fate of Bill's mother, as he explains to Jane.
  • Death Notification: Sort of. Anne receives the standard telegram, but it says that Tim is missing in action. The later telegram informing the family that Bill was killed in Italy arrives offscreen, with Anne telling Jane after Jane comes home.
  • Fatal Family Photo: Mr. Mahoney the grocer shows Anne a picture of his son, who's in the army. Not long after, his son is killed in a training accident.
  • The Ghost: Tim never appears onscreen but his presence looms throughout the movie, via many refrences to him as well as several pictures of him in the Hilton residence.
  • Grumpy Old Man: Col. Smollett is cranky and cantankerous, complaining about his eggs and the dog and the peculiarities of the Hilton household.
  • Have a Gay Old Time;
    • "Do you know of any place here in this gay metropolis where I can conquer my two passions at the same time?"
    • "This powderbox is not too gay."
  • Hypocritical Humor: "This whole moral breakdown is caused by drinking and nothing else. They sure serve rotten Scotch at this bar."
  • Intermission: The "Entr'acte" comes slightly more than halfway through this three-hour film, after the Hiltons receive the MIA telegram.
  • Mammy: Hattie McDaniel plays—wait for it—a sassy black maid.
  • Melodrama: Much tragedy, heightened emotions, and crying to be had.
  • Parlor Games: The Hiltons play Charades from time to time. The super-dignified Col. Smollett has to act out "bottoms up".
  • Sleeping Single: Amusingly still done in a movie where one half of the married couple is absent. In one scene Anne jumps from her bed into Tim's and breaks down weeping.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: In an ironic twist, they are played by an actor/actress couple in the middle of a divorce, because the actress is having an affair with the screenwriter/producer.
  • Thunder Equals Downpour: Jane and Bill are having an ideal afternoon on a farm when the sound of thunder comes out of nowhere. Boom, before they can even make it to the barn, it's pouring rain.
  • Train-Station Goodbye: The Trope Maker, as Jane sees Bill off when he's going away to war. There are declarations of love, there's Jane running after the moving train, there's Bill handing her a keepsake (his watch) from the moving window.
  • The Voiceless: Brig's very shy friend Gladys, who pops up from time to time to signal Brig with a "Pssst!" but never talks. Fiinally at the end she manages to gasp out a "Merry Christmas."
  • Wrench Wench: Anne eventually goes to work as a welder.