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|Index||52 reviews in total|
This was an unusually atmospheric melodrama with four powerful performances from Jane Wyman, Lew Ayres, Agnes Moorehead and Charles Bickford--not to mention two supporting players, Stephen McNally and Jan Sterling who shine in their roles. McNally is the town bully who rapes Belinda, a mute girl being coached to understand sign language by resident doctor, Lew Ayres. The plot thickens when Belinda's father (Charles Bickford) finds out and the story spins toward a taut, melodramatic climax. All of it is raised to a higher level by the quality of the writing, acting and direction. Other top female performances that year (1948)included Olivia de Havilland (for 'The Snake Pit') and Barbara Stanwyck ('Sorry, Wrong Number'). That Wyman won over such competition is a testimony to her brilliant performance. A moving melodrama, absorbing and extremely well acted by the entire cast. A TV version was done more recently but, like most remakes, it paled in comparison.
One of the best movies I've ever seen! Jane Wyman obviously put her all
into this movie and definitely deserved the Oscar she got!
It makes you want to cry and it makes you want to smile. I highly recommend it!
IF you ever want to see a movie that shows how to use the expression of your face for effect THIS is the movie. Miss Wyman who has always shown such class in her life. After all being the first Mrs.Ronald Reagan is not an easy station in this life. She comes across with a touching and beautiful performance that richly earned her an Academy Award. She does get excellent support from Ayres, Bickford, Moorehead BUT it is her movie. Ron and Nancy could never gave half of that kind of performance.
Contrary to what everyone else is saying about this movie, I only found it very frustrating. A deaf mute girl is raped and the only one that seems interested in finding out "who done it" is her father and he is quickly talked out of it by a doctor that has befriended the girl and taught her how to communicate with sign language. This doctor says: what good would it do her to bring this whole thing out and drag her through the mud? Plenty, I think- especially when she ends up pregnant and there is lots of mud dragging to go around. I was astounded when, upon finding out she is pregnant, this girl is happy to have a new friend- apparently the morals of the time had not sunken in that unmarried women don't have babies and that rape is wrong and the perpetrator needs to be brought to justice. They never tell this girl that what happened to her was wrong- if she didn't know- and she needs to let them know who so that this man can be prosecuted. I also kid of felt that Jane Wyman looked a little dazed thought the whole movie- like not much was getting though to her- which is the premise that her family was fighting against- that she was not mentally hampered in any way- just deaf mute. I have my doubts.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Good reminder not to give up on anyone in life.
Dr. Richardson (Lew Ayres) sees the potential in deaf and mute, disheveled farm hand Belinda (Jane Wyman), enabling her to blossom once he teaches her sign language. A friendship develops between the two, and the doctor confides that a profound loneliness prompted him to try to help himself by helping others.
It isn't long before local bad boy Locky (Stephan McNally) notices Belinda's actually an attractive woman. As if given permission by his crude girlfriend (Jan Sterling) -- "She'll never tell" -- Locky rapes and impregnates Belinda.
The small-town folk of turn-of-the-20th-century Cape Breton, Canada, shun Belinda and her family and condescendingly try to save the new mother from herself. Along the way Locky kills Belinda's laconic but kindly father (Charles Bickford).
In the end, though, love conquers all. Belinda, expertly portrayed by Ms. Wyman, finds a life with the one person on Earth who most appreciates her.
The movie's ending perhaps exceeds the happiness of the real-life characters on whom this story is based. Look up the movie's writer for more.
"Johnny Belinda" is a triumphant story on several levels. The first is
obvious - a beautiful but edgy story for 1948 about a deaf mute (Jane
Wyman), the ignorance of many around her, and the discrimination
against her when she has a child out of wedlock. The child is the
result of rape, but no one knows that.
The second is the incredible acting by the entire cast: Jane Wyman (who at 31 looks like a teenager), Lew Ayres, Charles Bickford, Agnes Moorhead, Steven McNally and Jan Sterling. They are each in their own way very powerful.
The third is the fantastic direction by Jean Negulesco, who really seemed to have his heart and soul into this.
The fourth is the vindication of Lew Ayres, whose career was over when he became a conscientious objector in World War II. He was MGM's Dr. Kildare but the series quickly became Dr. Gillespie. People understood conscientious objectors better in the Vietnam era; during World War II, it wasn't understood. Ayres did serve as a medic in World War II. When he came back, Warner Brothers cast him in this, and he won an Oscar.
The story of a lonely young woman living on a farm in the desolate Cape Breton and the doctor who takes an interest in her, teaching her sign language, is a beautiful one. The screenplay by Irma Von Cube and Allen Vincent is stunning. This film swept the 1948 Oscars, and with good reason. Highly recommended.
Wyman has the role of her career as a naive, deaf-mute young woman in a small Canadian town in the 19th century who is raped by a local hoodlum. She won an Oscar for her word-less performance, beating out Olivia De Havilland for "The Snake Pit." There are also fine performances from Ayers as a kindly doctor who takes interest in Wyman, Bickford as her tough father, and Moorehead as her aunt. The location cinematography is beautiful and it is sensitively directed by Negulesco. Other than a somewhat melodramatic courtroom scene, it is quite understated and surprisingly mature in handling a controversial subject, given the era in which it was made.
A truly great film with a very fantastic story about a deaf/mute young girl named Belinda McDonald, (Jane Wyman) who lives with her father Black McDonald, (Charles Bickford) and Aggie McDonald, (Agnes Moorehead) who live on a farm and work very hard to make a living. Belinda is called a dummy by most of the people in town until a Dr. Robert Richardson, (Lew Ayres) meets her and decides to teach her sign language and is able to communicate with her and other people. Unfortunately, a cruel person rapes Belinda and she becomes pregnant and that is when the story becomes very interesting and the story takes on many twists and turns. Agnes Moorehead gave an outstanding supporting role along with Stephen McNally, (Locky McCormick). This is a great Academy Award Winning Film from 1948. Enjoy.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I just saw Johnny Belinda for the first time, and it's wonderful cinema. I kept being reminded of later films I admire, and see where they could have learned elements of their style. The face, that beautiful face of Jane Wyman, how expressive, how poignant! No wonder Reagan fell for her, she was glorious, and without saying a word. And I was watching also the shadows and light, and thought, how very European, and in fact it was by a Romanian-born director, Jean Negulesco. Its setting had elements of the American west, but it was set in Cape Breton, Canada, and portrayed families that fished and farmed and had little contact with the rest of the world. It portrays, a bit melodramatically, small-town prejudice and ignorance, and tackles the issue of rape rather bravely for the time. The Lew Ayres character was a bit too goody-goody for my taste, not much nuance, but he carried off the role well. I've now got to see him in the Dr. Kildare movies.
Johnny Belinda (1948)
*** 1/2 (out of 4)
A doctor (Lew Ayres) tries to cute a mute woman (Jane Wyman) but when she's raped and ends up pregnant it causes problems in the small town. I really hadn't heard too much about this film except for Wyman winning the Oscar for her performance but it's certainly one of the stronger films of the decade. The only real problem is that it drags near the one hour mark and it's rather predictable but other than that this here is a very strong film. Wyman is terrific in her role and she gives one of the best performances I've seen from any actor playing a deaf person. Ayres is also very good in the film as are Charles Bickford and Agnes Moorehead as the father and aunt to the deaf girl. Stephen McNally nearly steals every scene he's in and certainly ranks as one of the greatest villains in history.
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