To Each His Own (film)

To Each His Own is a 1946 American drama romance film[2][3] directed by Mitchell Leisen and starring Olivia de Havilland. The screenplay was written by Charles Brackett and Jacques Théry. A young woman bears a child out of wedlock and has to give him up.

To Each His Own
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMitchell Leisen
Produced byCharles Brackett
Screenplay byCharles Brackett
Jacques Théry
(as Jacques Thery)
Story byCharles Brackett
StarringOlivia de Havilland
Music byVictor Young
CinematographyDaniel L. Fapp
Edited byAlma Macrorie
Paramount Pictures
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • March 12, 1946 (1946-03-12) (United States)
  • May 23, 1946 (1946-05-23) (New York City)
Running time
122 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$3.6 million (US rentals)[1]

De Havilland won the Academy Award for Best Actress. Brackett and Théry were nominated for Best Writing, Original Story. The title song became a hit.


In World War II London, fire wardens Josephine "Jody" Norris and Lord Desham keep a lonely vigil. When Jody saves Desham's life, they become better acquainted. With a bit of coaxing, the ageing spinster tells the story of her life, leading to a flashback.

Jody is the belle of her small American hometown of Piersen Falls. Both Alex Piersen and traveling salesman Mac Tilton propose to her, but she turns them both down. A disappointed Alex marries Corinne . When handsome US Army Air Service fighter pilot Captain Bart Cosgrove flies in to promote a World War I bond drive, he and Jody quickly fall in love, though they have only one night together.

A pregnant Jody is advised (out of town) that her life is in danger and she needs an operation. She agrees, though she would lose her unborn child. When she learns that Bart has been killed in action, she changes her mind. She secretly gives birth to their son in 1919. She tries to arrange it so that she can "adopt" the boy without scandal by having him left on the doorstep of a family with too many children already, but the scheme backfires. Corinne loses her own newborn that same day, but is consoled by Jody's. Jody has to love her son, named Gregory or "Griggsy," from afar.

Jody's father dies, forcing her to sell the family drug store. When Jody asks to become Griggsy's nurse, Corinne turns her down; she may have suspected all along that Jody is the boy's real mother. Knowing that her husband never loved her, Corinne is determined to keep the one person who does.

Jody moves to New York City to work for Mac. She discovers to her surprise that he is a bootlegger, using a cosmetics business as a front. The same day, the place is raided by the police, leaving Mac with nothing but the cosmetics equipment. Jody persuades him to make cold cream; with her drive and determination, she builds up a thriving business, and they become rich.

In 1924, she forces Corinne to give her Griggsy by threatening to block a desperately needed bank loan for Alex's failing business. After two months, however, the four-year-old is still so miserably homesick, Jody gives up and sends the boy back.

Heartbroken, Jody leaves the US to immerse herself in work, setting up and running the English branch of her Lady Vyvyan Cosmetics Company. During World War II, her son becomes a pilot in the 8th Air Force. When he gets a leave in London, Jody meets his train and fusses over him. He only knows her as a family friend. Lord Desham, who is attracted to Jody, uses his influence to arrange for the young man to marry his WREN fiancée without the customary delay. After some broad hints from Desham, Lieutenant Pierson finally realizes why Jody has been so helpful and asks his mother (by that title) for a dance.


Home media

  • To Each His Own (VHS). Universal Studios. February 17, 1998.
  • To Each His Own (DVD (region 2)). Universal Studios.


The film was remade in India as the Hindi hit film Aradhana (1969)[4][5] which made Rajesh Khanna a major star.[6][7]

Critical reception

ALTFG said "To Each His Own is surprisingly direct in its handling of an unwed mother, paralleling Jody's increasing coldness with the detached—but honest—flashbacks that comprise the bulk of the film."[8] One reviewer at Cinescene said "In To Each His Own, the sufferer is able to learn something from her mistakes and misfortunes, growing past her grief and distress into a kind of wisdom. The picture has style, but also a sincerity of sentiment that gives it distinction."[9] Another wrote, "Forthrightly feminist avant la lettre, the film is conscious of constraints, but committed to its movement forward: less resentful than resourceful, and more stalwart than strident, yet angry and determined nonetheless."[10]

ClassicFilmGuide deemed it "A marvelous sentimental (and now dated) story ".[11] JigsawLounge wrote "Brackett's screenplay is a wonder of intricate construction, with pretty much every minor detail of character and plot introduced for a reason which 'pays off' much later in the script. On sober reflection, it is a rather tall tale—and more than the usual degree of disbelief-suspension may be required here and there. But this should prove a very simple task for all but the most hard-headed of audiences: To Each His Own's combination of emotional resonance and a lively wit is potent, and enduring."[12] San.beck said, "This maudlin drama explores the loneliness of a woman who is successful in business but has only one relative she rarely sees. The world wars made for some quick marriages and many widows."[13] NicksFlickPicks gave the film a rating of 3 stars out of 5.[14] TV Guide said, "What might have been a trite soap opera is elevated to the status of superior emotional drama by a wise script, sensitive direction, and an Oscar-winning performance by de Havilland."[15]


1946New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best ActressOlivia de Havilland2nd place
1947Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading RoleOlivia de HavillandWon
1947Academy Award for Best Writing, Original StoryCharles BrackettNominated


  1. "60 Top Grossers of 1946", Variety 8 January 1947 p8
  2. Variety film review; March 13, 1946, page 10.
  3. Harrison's Reports film review; March 16, 1943, page 43.
  4. "Aradhana (1969) - Movie connections". Retrieved 30 September 2014.
  5. " Dial D for Darjeeling". Retrieved 30 September 2014.
  6. Archived July 9, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ", Movies: The different avatars of Rajesh Khanna". Retrieved 30 September 2014.
  8. Doug Johnson. "TO EACH HIS OWN Review – Olivia de Havilland, John Lund Mitchell Leisen". Alt Film Guide.
  9. "Flicks - November 2001".
  10. "Other Voices, Other Films".
  11. "To Each His Own (1946)". Classic Film Guide.
  12. "EDINBURGH 06 (pt4) : 'To Each His Own' (1946) / 'Chilly Scenes of Winter' (1979) / etc - Neil Young's Film Lounge".
  13. "To Each His Own".
  14. "Nick's Flick Picks: The Blog".
  15. "To Each His Own".

Further reading

  • Shadoian, Jack (September 1, 1998). "Exacting standards: Director Mitchell Leisen's film 'To Each His Own' epitomizes the director's work". Film Comment. 34 (5): 40. Retrieved 2011-02-03. Seeing Leisen's films, though, kindles the urge to get up in arms, hoist a banner or two in the hope of securing the director his rightful share of the limelight. Segue to To Each His Own, a quintessential Leisen weepie—what one could unkindly call glittery trash created by the best minds of the motion picture industry, but that just might be wonder-full enough to do the job. Shadoian is a film scholar who wrote the monograph Dreams and Dead Ends: The American Gangster Film (1978, 2003).
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