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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
Kids. They're everywhere. Always underfoot, or out and about, and it's only a matter of time before one spills the beans and unearths your family's buried secret. In this timely drama from the far-off Forties, the secret in question is the past adoption of the oldest daughter, played by the always capable Ann Blyth. She was an actress who was small boned, with a porcelain-like face and a voluminously deep cadence. Afterall, she was a trained opera singer. Although petite, it was always difficult (for me) to view her as a teenager.
Let me first say, the extended opening sequence concerning the arrival and assembly of a spanking new television set is quite remarkable. First, I found it difficult to believe that televisions came in pieces like your kid's bicycle. Second, the rather tipsy and unstable relationship between the two oldest girls is on display--roof-side--within full view of all the neighbors. And us. The man of their dreams just so happens to be the fellow who is installing the aerial on the family's roof. The entire scene teeters on the shingled see-saw of a colossal courting snafu. And third, the youngest daughter's constant badgering of the other delivery man, as he attempts to assemble the glowing box of fuses and tubes, can only be described as finger-nails-on-blackboard annoying. But forgiven. Perfectly contrasted with the level-headed Blyth, Joan Evans, the middle daughter, is a revelation of bad intentions and devious schemes. But there is still something appealing about her. We don't root against her. Natalie Wood, the youngest daughter, has all of her acting ducks in a row. As usual. The best performance, however, is turned in by Ann Dvorak, playing the woman who puts baby Blyth up for adoption. She's a bundle of raw nerves in her two pivotal scenes. She smokes like an incinerator, paces back and forth and has her head on a spinning rotor. The meeting between her and Blyth is heartbreaking. The movie doesn't try to soft peddle the truth: life is not always neat and tidy like a box of soap powder.
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