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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 is pouring orange juice for the teenager, he grabs her right wrist and pours juice into the glass as she holds it, but in the long shot he has taken the glass from her and fills it himself before returning the glass to her. See more »
For those of you who only know Shirley Booth from the television series Hazel, I would strongly recommend you look at the list of her Broadway credits which date all the way back to the twenties. She appeared in so many Broadway plays that later went on screen without her recreating the role. For example she created parts in The Philadelphia Story, Goodbye My Fancy, and Desk Set that were later played by Ruth Hussey, Joan Crawford and Katharine Hepburn respectively.
Booth joined that select group of players who won both Tony and Oscars for playing the same role in Come Back, Little Sheba. The play by William Inge ran for 190 performances during the 1950 season and co-starred Sidney Blackmer with Booth. Like the Lunts when they filmed The Guardsman, we get to see but one of her performances preserved on film, maybe her best role.
William Inge's play concerns two very ordinary people, Doc and Marie Delaney, a seemingly quiet middle aged couple. But like George and Martha in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, there's a lot of skeletons in the Delaney closet. Doc was forced to marry Marie when she became pregnant and then the baby was lost anyway. Both made the best of the situation. Doc, unfortunately turned to drink. But when we meet him he's been sober for a year and involved with Alcoholics Anonymous.
Marie is this dowdy middle aged housewife who's forever tuned into the radio and constantly reminiscing of her youth. Doc is just the opposite, he doesn't like to talk at all about the past. But he gets a bit of nostalgia going when pretty and stacked Terry Moore boards with the Delaneys.
Her presence in the house sets of a chain of events that knocks Doc off the wagon. We then see what Marie's been living with before AA.
Another reviewer remarked at how well Shirley Booth caught the attitudes and mannerisms of the wife of an alcoholic and where had she done her research for the part. The answer is she lived it. Her first husband, Ed Gardner from radio's Duffy's Tavern, was a notorious alcoholic, Booth got all the material she ever would need to create Marie Delaney with him.
For movie box office Burt Lancaster played Doc Delaney and he got rave notices himself for the part. Doc was such a change from the aggressively masculine heroes like Lancaster played in The Crimson Pirate or The Flame and the Arrow. I wouldn't doubt that his performance may have led to Lancaster being cast in From Here to Eternity and winning his first Oscar nomination. In a sense Lancaster plays two roles because the sober Doc is a totally different individual from the raging drunk when he gives in to temptation.
The title comes from their dog Sheba who up and ran away one day. Marie calls for him constantly, thinks she sees him at times. But Sheba's a metaphor for their youth which is never to return.
Cinema acting don't get much better than Burt Lancaster and Shirley Booth in Come Back, Little Sheba.
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