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Joseph H. Lewis
Dame May Whitty,
This is the warm-hearted story of a wholesome Terry Moore, whose late uncle Willie (James Gleason) is reincarnated as a thoroughbred horse. At least, as far as Ms. Moore is concerned, he is. The horse's name is October. Moore is tried for insanity, then becomes the subject of a book by a top psychologist (Glenn Ford), who falls in love with his subject. Written by
When I came across this video (on the old GoodTimes budget label) in a Half Price Books in Tacoma, WA, my initial shock came from the fact that the film was directed by none other than cult auteur Joseph H. Lewis (GUN CRAZY, THE BIG COMBO). The fact that it was shot in Technicolor and starred one of Columbia's two contract leading men (the other being William Holden) makes me assume that this must have been a prestige picture for the studio that year. In all honesty, it's not very good, with a contrived courtroom finale that recalls the previous year's MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET for all the wrong reasons. A brief synopsis of the relevant plot points: greedy relatives are trying to cover up the fact that they've squandered a dead aunt's fortune by getting niece Terry Moore declared insane, based on the fact that she thinks her horse is her reincarnated uncle (isn't it funny how in films of this period people can be declared insane on the flimsiest of premises? maybe not so funny, though, if you were Francis Farmer). Glenn Ford is a doctor of philosophy who is researching the relationships between animals and humans (whatever) and his boss at the university thinks that a paper he's writing about Terry's 'delusion' will be a big seller and bring in lots of publicity and money for their foundering school (yeah, maybe in the Bizarro Universe). Terry Moore is cute but not a very good actress, over-emoting in her scenes with the horse to the point that you begin to think that, Yeah, this chick IS crazy. The late, great Glenn Ford is, as always, charming and essentially decent, though he hasn't at this point fully developed the comedic skills that would serve him much better in the '60s. There are some trademark Joseph H. Lewis shots here and there (early in the film there's a view of Terry and her uncle up in a stand observing a horse on a track shot from a ground level POV, framed by a white wooden railing; a lengthy automobile conversation between Moore and Ford recalls, if vaguely, similar scenes in GUN CRAZY between Peggy Cummins and John Dall), but is of interest on a stylistic level only for completists of the director's work. Still, that trained cat is pretty amazing (though it does look slightly narcotized in some of its scenes).
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