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Edward G. Robinson,
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For two decades Doc and Lola Delaney avoided coming to terms with what Doc considered a "shot gun" marriage. Lola lost the baby and gives a lot of her affection to Sheba, a dog that disappeared a few months before the film opens. Doc blames Lola for having to drop out of medical school and not becoming a "real" doctor. Until joining AA a year ago, his escape was alcohol. Then college student Marie rents a room in their home. Doc feels passion for the first time in 20 years. But Marie has two suitors her age. Lola -- unaware of Doc's emotions --becomes as interested in Marie's future as if Marie were her daughter. Written by
Dale O'Connor <firstname.lastname@example.org>
When Doc and Lola are having breakfast, he pours a glass of orange juice and sets it down at her place setting. In the next shot he pours her another glass of juice and the first one has disappeared. See more »
Shirley Booth was a remarkably versatile actress - she did comedies, musicals, and dramas - and won the adoration of critics and audiences in all. But as with Agnes Moorehead and Eve Arden, her success in a TV comedy, "Hazel" tended to over-shadow her work on stage or film. A well-liked comedic actress on Broadway since the 1930s, she reinvented herself as a dramatic actress in 1949 with COME BACK, LITTLE SHEBA, winning every award in sight. Although the film version was offered to the likes of Bette Davis (who turned it down because she felt she couldn't bring to the role the "gorgeous vagueness" Booth had), Hal Wallis wisely went with Booth to recreate her stage role, casting Burt Lancaster for box-office appeal.
Booth's performance as Lola is astonishing, filled with nervous energy and anxiety, living on the edge - ask anyone who's ever lived with an alcoholic
every gesture, every emotion she plays, is honest and accurate. When I
finally saw this film in the early 1990s, I was floored by Booth - where in heck had she done her research? Help for families of alcoholics (the Al-Anon Family Groups) was still several years off when the stage version was done - the resources available to Booth would have been "open" AA meetings and perhaps talking with family members. (Incidentally, the director, Daniel Mann, wasn't finished with AA - a more realistic AA meeting figured in his 1956 I'LL CRY TOMORROW, in which he directed Susan Hayward to an Oscar nomination - ironically, she lost out to Anna Magnani's Mann-directed performance in THE ROSE TATTOO!)
Booth was still alive at the time I first saw this film (around 1991-92), and I knew after watching that, unfortunately, her great success as TV's "Hazel" over-shadowed SHEBA, and that when she died, the obit's would begin, "Shirley Booth, TV's HAZEL, is Dead..." and I was right. Agnes Moorehead had a similar fate - the generation which grew up on "Bewitched" was clueless that Moorehead was one of the finest, most versatile and respected actresses around and, like Booth, every bit the equal of the other leading ladies (whom she'd usually supported). I remember attending a screening for the 50th anniversary of CITIZEN KANE and hearing gasps of astonishment as the cast's names appeared "That was AGNES MOOREHEAD!!!!"
Yes, indeed. And THAT was Shirley Booth, breaking our hearts in COME BACK, LITTLE SHEBA. Forget "Hazel," and bring tissues.
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