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F. Hugh Herbert
Gail discovers the shocking news that she is adopted during a heated argument with her sister, Joan. With the reluctant support of her adoptive parents and baby sister, Penny, Gail goes in search of her biological mother and true identity. Written by
I watched this movie on the strength of comments on this site. I was not a great fan of any of the actors save for Natalie Wood and Ann Dvorak and neither was the headliner. But I stand corrected. Notwithstanding the negative comments posted by adopted IMDb members I found the film compelling on several levels. It touched me deeply. Several scenes brought tears to my eyes with the same effect on my wife who is the tough one in the family. They weren't melodramatic, just done with the right dose of pathos to convey feelings and put the viewer in the characters' places. Each member of the family was successively portrayed and then relegated to the background to focus on Ann Blyth's character, her adoptive parents and her birth mother. All these actors' performances were just right, Dvorak's in particular.
One scene stands out in my mind and I don't think I'm giving much away in retelling it: after Blyth discovers she was adopted she asks the family maid Violet - played by Jessica Grayson in another memorable performance - if she knew. Violet answers "Honey I was here when they brought you 18 years ago". Grayson delivered it with just the right amount of sensitivity to underscore to us and the deeply wounded Blyth that the circumstances of her birth had no effect on her status within the family. There were many more such vignettes, when Blyth returns at 3am and gets yelled at by her father, when Blyth and Wyatt get tangled up in the meaning of the word "mother" the morning after the revelation, the look of fear on Wyatt's face when she allows her second daughter to look for her birth certificate. They showed us a strong, caring family, with patient, intelligent and understanding parents capable of mistakes they were not afraid to admit and tackle. Nobody was all good or all bad, just people with a full range of human strengths and frailties, people like you and me.
I could go on like this forever and give away the whole plot but I'll stop here and close with another memorable scene I feel rounds out this movie. It takes place before Blyth discovers she's adopted, on the beach with Farley Granger. They come out of the surf, draw close and Blyth reaches up on her tiptoes to kiss Granger. The camera draws away and looks down on them from high up as the waves approach them from both sides to merge where they stand. There was a raw sensuality to this scene. It was full of the passion that complements altruistic love.
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