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The Constant Nymph is a 1943 romantic drama film starring Charles Boyer, Joan Fontaine, Alexis Smith, Brenda Marshall, Charles Coburn, May Whitty, and Peter Lorre.[2] It was adapted by Kathryn Scola from the Margaret Kennedy novel and play by Kennedy and Basil Dean, and directed by Edmund Goulding.

The Constant Nymph
1943 film
Directed byEdmund Goulding
Produced byHenry Blanke
Hal B. Wallis
Written byMargaret Kennedy (novel and play)
Basil Dean (play)
Kathryn Scola
StarringJoan Fontaine
Charles Boyer
Alexis Smith
Music byErich Wolfgang Korngold
CinematographyTony Gaudio
Edited byDavid Weisbart
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures
Release date
  • June 23, 1943 (1943-06-23)
Running time
112 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$1.9 million (US rentals)[1]



Lewis Dodd (Charles Boyer) is a composer whose latest symphony flops in London. Seeking new inspiration, and to escape his critics, he travels to Switzerland to stay at the home of older friend Albert Sanger (Montagu Love) and his young wife, Lina. Sanger's four young daughters—Kate (Jean Muir), Toni (Brenda Marshall), Tessa (Joan Fontaine) and Paula (Joyce Reynolds)—have been raised in relative isolation, and swiftly develop crushes on Lewis, especially Tessa, (who has a heart condition). The elderly and hard drinking Sanger dies, Lina leaves and, as per his instructions, Lewis sends to England for Charles Creighton (Charles Coburn), Sanger's wealthy brother in law (the uncle of Tessa and Paula), and his adult daughter, Florence (Alexis Smith) to help the children, as Sanger had very little money to leave them. Lewis is inspired by the girls to write some of the first heart-felt music he has composed in years. Kate leaves for school, Toni marries Fritz (Peter Lorre), and Lewis falls in love with the beautiful Florence, who is in her twenties. Lewis quickly asks Florence to marry him, breaking the heart of Tessa, who has been secretly in love with him for a long time. Tessa and Paula are sent to boarding school, while Lewis and Florence marry and move to London, where they live with Florence's father, but Florence angers Lewis by trying to promote and manage his social and professional activities when he values his independence. Tessa and Paula are unhappy at school and run away to the Dodd's house. Lewis is much more concerned about their welfare than is Florence. Lewis is encouraged by Tessa to write beautiful music again. Tessa and Lewis confess privately their feelings for one another, but Tessa says that she cannot betray her cousin. Lewis tells Florence that he does not love her but has always loved Tessa and is going away for a while. Florence initially says that she will wait for him but then accuses him of having an affair with the girl. Florence then goes to Tessa and bitterly confronts her with her suspicions. Tessa admits her love for Lewis and offers to go away, but Florence believes that she is going away with Lewis. The stress causes Tessa's heart-related attacks to become more frequent and she does not go to the concert. Lewis' choral symphony, inspired by his feelings for Tessa, is performed to great acclaim, while Tessa packs to leave and listens to the concert on the radio, dreaming of Lewis. At the end of the performance Lewis rushes home, followed by Florence, who offers to give him up. Lewis looks for Tessa and finds her dead.



Fontaine was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress, but lost to Jennifer Jones's performance in The Song of Bernadette.[3]


The will of Margaret Kennedy stated that the film could be shown only at universities and museums after its original theatrical run ended. As a result, the film was unavailable for exhibition for nearly seventy years. The film received its first authorized public screening in decades as part of the 2011 Turner Classic Movies Classic Film Festival.[4][5]

Edmund Goulding's biographer Matthew Kennedy wrote that Joan Fontaine spoke "rapturously" of The Constant Nymph. "She was nominated for a best actress Oscar for it," he stated, "and it remains a personal favorite of hers."[6]

The film was released on DVD under the Warner Archive Collection label on 22 November 2011.[7]

Radio adaptationEdit

The Constant Nymph was presented on Hollywood Players December 17, 1946. Fontaine reprised her role from the film.[8]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Top Grossers of the Season", Variety, 5 January 1944 p 54
  2. ^ LIFE. "Movie of the Week: The Constant Nymph" - August 2, 1943 - Page 38.
  3. ^ "The Constant Nymph". Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 2014-02-10.
  4. ^ "TCM Fest: 'The Constant Nymph' (1943), a rediscovered gem". Archived from the original on 2011-05-05. Retrieved 2012-10-17.
  5. ^ TCM Classic Film Festival: 'Night Flight,' 'The Constant Nymph,' 'Hoop-La'
  6. ^ Kennedy, Matthew (2004). Edmund Goulding’s Dark Victory: Hollywood’s Genius Bad Boy. University of Wisconsin Press.
  7. ^ DVD Savant Review: The Constant Nymph
  8. ^ "'Nymph'". Harrisburg Telegraph. December 14, 1946. p. 17. Retrieved September 11, 2015 – via  

External linksEdit