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Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Eva Marie Saint,
George and Catherine Apley of Boston lead a proper life in the proper social circle, as did the Apleys before them. When grown daughter Eleanor falls in love with Howard (from New York!), and son John with Myrtle (from Worcester!), the ordered life of the Apley home on Beacon Street is threatened, as is the hoped-for union of John and Apley-cousin Agnes. Written by
Ron Kerrigan <email@example.com>
The Late George Apley provides Ronald Colman in one of the best roles of his career as the proper Bostonian George Apley in those pre-World War I years. It's funny, but even then Boston had slipped away from the grasp of his kind. Those immigrants, starting with the ones from Ireland had been running the government there for about a generation when this play on which the film is based is set. But don't tell that to George, his kind if they don't outrightly rule, they do set the standards of proper conduct for America. When the Apleys gather for Thanksgiving, they're most mindful of the fact that some of their ancestors originated it.
But even Colman and his insular Boston world can't escape generational problems. Both his son Richard Ney and his daughter Peggy Cummins are having problems with their respective choices as life partners, especially Cummins who wants to marry a man who graduated from of all places, Yale.
Colman, maybe the most civilized leading man ever in screen history captures the essence of the decent, but somewhat fatuous George Apley. A man who thinks all the answers to life's problems can be found in a volume of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Even Emerson didn't think that.
The Late George Apley is based on a Pulitzer Prize winning novel by John P. Marquand who also collaborated with George S. Kaufman on the play. Their creation ran for 384 performances in the 1944-45 season and starred Leo G. Carroll and Janet Beecher on stage. Edna Best takes Beecher's role on screen as the patient wife of Colman.
Some really fine players populate the cast. Richard Haydn plays his usual fuss budget busybody of a cousin, always eager to help Colman maintain the high Apley standards. Mildred Natwick is Colman's even snootier sister and Percy Waram who was the only player to repeat his role from the stage plays her patient husband who talks to Colman like a Dutch uncle, not a brother-in-law.
The Late George Apley is a good American answer to those British comedy of manners even though a lot of this cast is of British origin. Would we had someone of the wit of George S. Kaufman today to write them and an actor with elegant prose of Ronald Colman to speak the lines.
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