The costume drama My Forbidden Past (1951) sees Favorite of the Month Ava Gardner starring alongside Robert Mitchum (The Red Pony (1949); Not as a Stranger (1955)). Gardner plays Barbara Beaurevel, whose lost love affair with Dr. Mark Lucas (Mitchum) sees her acting out in ways which destroy the lives of other people. My Forbidden Past is packed with melodrama from start to finish and I loved every minute of it.
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The film was adapted from Polan Banks’ novel Carriage Entrance.
Unfortunately, My Forbidden Past was no box office success, going at a loss of $700,000.
Ann Sheridan was supposed to be the actress to play Barbara Beaurevel . But after she was replaced by Ava Gardner who was on loan from MGM she sued the head of RKO, Howard Hughes for breach of contract.
As reported in the biography Ava Gardner – ‘Love is Nothing’ by Lee Server, Ava Gardner and Robert Mitchum had an affair during the filming of My Forbidden Past. Gardner even called Mitchum’s wife and asked her to give him up so she could have a real chance with him!
The film is set in New Orleans at the turn of the 20th century. Barbara Beaurevel (Ava Gardner) is continuing a love affair with Dr. Mark Lucas (Robert Mitchum), something she is eager to hide from her Aunt Eula (Lucile Watson) and cousin Paul (Melvyn Douglas), whom she lives with. Mark asks Barbara to leave her Aunt and travel with him to South America, where they will be married that night. Barbara says yes but when cousin Paul discovers Barbara packing a suitcase he wastes no time in pouring the emotional guilt onto Barbara, telling her that Aunt Eula’s health will suffer greatly should she do such a thing to her.
Paul bullies Barbara into writing a letter to Mark explaining that she won’t be going with him, but will wait for him, and Barbara trusts Paul to get the letter to Mark, who is waiting for her on the boat. Barbara waits for Mark’s return, and is broken-hearted when he finally returns to New Orleans with his new wife Corinne (Janis Carter). It later transpires that Paul never gave the letter to Mark. Mark is cold towards Barbara, but it is obvious that the love still exists between them.
Barbara pays a visit to Luther Toplady (Will Wright) an attorney who has been looking for Barbara, as she is due a huge inheritance, a little short of a million dollars. However, Barbara has been advised by Aunt Eula not to take the money since the inheritance comes from a part of the family whom the Beaurevel’s do not wish to be associated with. But Barbara doesn’t listen and when Paul learns of the money he is elated, for the family can now live comfortably again. It is during this time that Barbara casts aside Clay Duchesne (Gordon Oliver), whom her Aunt would like to see her marry.
Barbara doesn’t believe that Corinne really loves Mark that much, and orchestrates a situation where she believes Corinne would be lured away by cousin Paul, telling Paul that should he succeed she will give him enough of her money so he can set up his own business.
But matters seriously backfire when a death occurs due to Barbara’s meddling, and it looks as if Mark could be the one who gets the blame.
This is the first time I had ever seen My Forbidden Past, which is not one of those films which usually come up when Ava Gardner’s most famous films are mentioned, most likely because the film was such a flop. But personally I wouldn’t let that put Ava Gardner or Robert Mitchum fans from watching it, as I for one thoroughly enjoyed the seventy-minute film, and thought that Gardner gave a great and varied performance.
Melvyn Douglas was perfectly unlikable as cousin Paul, and is also one of the stand out performances in My Forbidden Past.
Some photos courtesy of “DoctorMacro”