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|Index||45 reviews in total|
I was so impressed with the middle-America authenticity of the setting
of this movie that the acting seemed secondary. That said, the acting
The mores of post-war America come through loud and clear. There's plenty of Victorian attitude and yet a strong undercurrent of changing standards. Male dominance permeates every aspect of daily life and all sides seem quite comfortable with that. It's reassuring and yet begs for a crusade. The images in this very simple set reminded of my grandparents' houses and the rush of emotion I'm sure contributed to my enjoyment of the movie.
I recommend this to anyone who enjoys Inge (writer of the play from which the screenplay was taken) or the state-of-the-art film production for the beginning of the second half of the twentieth century.
Brilliant casting! The interplay between Ms. Booth and Burt Lancaster
is so real, and so poignant, I can't help but be kept spellbound by the
two of them. How you want little Sheba to come home, how you imagine
her going to sleep holding back the tears, is so touching and
humiliating at the same time.
Yes I can see how women might find this film unsettling, to say the least, but in fact Lola has the upper hand throughout, she maintains him and the house through tragedy and frustration, and Doc knows this, he sees it, he understands it. And for the brief time he feels passion for the roommate, the passion is not focused on her, but on himself, and ultimately he gives it to loyal Lola.
A wonderful, touching film, memorable.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
an unnecessary addition, but i had to add my voice.
i saw this movie as a young girl on TV and i never forgot it. it still haunts me, for similar reasons listed by others here. (i went to add it to my "wishlist" and found out ms. booth is not even listed on T*Vo!). i don't think i ever saw it again, but I can still picture many of the scenes in my mind.
the portrayal of lives of quiet desperation is so poignantly matched by the "scenery" that i would suggest you see the film in the original (non-colorized) version if possible. even over 50 years later, the subject matter is still fresh because almost all of us know people like this, whether they are married to each other or not.
Shirley Booth was amazing in this movie. It breaks me heart that she only did a select few television performances after her debut in this wonderful movie. Booth is the perfect Lola, and so very talented in her trade. My only wish is to have been able to see her and her counterpart on the Broadway version of this great movie.
Shirley Booth won the 1952 Oscar for best actress in this earthy role
as Lola Delaney, a woman who had to marry beneath her because she was
in trouble. Burt Lancaster did a fine job as the alcoholic husband.
Sheba is the little dog that has gone lost. It will no sooner return as if her drab existence can ever get better.
As a blase woman in a house dress, Shirley Booth reached the heights in dramatic acting and her Oscar was well deserved. Booth also appeared on Broadway in this wonderful part, depicting a bad marriage and unhappy consequences that followed.
Richard Jaeckel and Terry Moore, the latter receiving an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress, gave ample support.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
'Come Back Little Sheba' is the story of a recovering alcoholic's
(Lancaster as 'Doc Delaney') falling off the wagon, then back on again.
His lapse is prompted by the appearance of a student lodger (Moore as
'Marie') whose flirting with a bad boy (Jaeckel as 'Turk') arouses
Doc's lust and jealousy. Presumably because this was 1952, there is a
lot of understatement of the passions that actually might be going on,
but the scenes of Turk assaulting Marie, and Doc spewing his bitterness
at Lola (Shirley Booth) are still powerful, and Burt's struggle not to
pick up the bottle is good.
Shirley Booth's performance is slightly over the top, and there's never any doubt that you're watching a stage performance, but it's a professional, consistent turn. The trouble is that Burt Lancaster's acting for the screen in a much more restrained way, and you do wonder what a cool, if wooden, dude like him is doing with a somewhat irritating frump like Lola (in spite of her implausibly being referred to as 'Pretty Lola' more than once). At first I was expecting Lola to be the one reaching for the booze as soon as Doc had gone to work, but alas there are no such twists or deconstructions in this movie. It's straight down the line, and the only suspense comes from wondering when Doc is going to reach for that Bourbon he's kept in the kitchen for a year. When he does, sparks fly gratifyingly enough.
The teen characters and their plot are straight out of a McGraw-Hill public information short, often forgetting to act properly (see Bruce in the dinner scene), and while Lola's phone call to her mother telling of her unhappiness is effective, Doc's return and the resumption of suburban bliss is very weak and relies on sentimentality.
'Come Back Little Sheba' portrays an abused woman's mundane heroism and does enough to get by, but whether you enjoy it will depend on whether you buy Shirley Booth's old-school performance. In 1952 it was probably quite moving; in 2012 it's a little bit grating.
Come Back Little Sheba (1952)
*** 1/2 (out of 4)
Doc (Burt Lancaster) and Lola (Shirley Booth) Delaney are an older couple who have been married for a little over twenty years. They met when they were young and when the wife became pregnant Doc was forced into marrying her. Not only that but this young lust caused Doc to drop out of medical school and after the baby died, the two went on with their lives but for all those years Doc felt as if something wasn't right. Doc, a recovering alcoholic, has been sober for a year but the pressure of getting old and missed chances in life are starting to haunt him. Lola, on the other hand is being haunted by the fact her little dog Sheba ran away from home a few weeks early leaving her feeling alone.
When Doc was drinking he was a very violent man, which cost the couple all of their friends. Since the house is quiet with no one around Lola decides to rent a room to a local college student, Marie (Terry Moore). At first this doesn't sit too well with Doc but once he meets the young girl he begins to fall for her. When Doc sees the young girl with her whole life in front of her he can't help but think back on his own life and how at one time he was as joyful as her. Soon Doc and Lola become parent figures for the girl but all this time things start eating at Doc because he's worried Marie is going to go down the same road he did. When the pressure of the past and Marie start to bubble up Doc fears that he could head towards the bottle again.
The film works wonders in the fact that there isn't a false moment to be found anywhere. Even outside the issue with alcoholism, the film takes a strong look at getting old and looking back on your life and wishing you had taken a different direction. The film is downright depression and gets more depressing with each passing second and I'm sure many would be turned off by this but hopefully viewers will stick in there because they'll witness some truly heartbreaking scenes as well as some very frightening ones. Director Daniel Mann does a wonderful job mixing all these elements and the way the film compares the older couple with their young housemate is very well done and makes for an interesting comparison.
Over the years the most talked about aspect of this film was the performance by Shirley Booth, which while quite good, also hurts the film in some ways. The only downside I find to the film is that she is the least interesting character and she has to carry the film all the way. There are several moments where the film drags when her husband or the young girl aren't there with her. The one scene that really sticks out is one where she invites the milkman into the house and tries to strike up a conversation. Even though I feel she isn't strong enough to carry the film, Booth is still quite good throughout.
To me Burt Lancaster is one of the greatest actors to ever grace the screen and his performance here is nothing short of a masterpiece. Lancaster was already a well-known star by 1952 but he really hadn't had the chance to show what a wonderful dramatic actor he was. Previous films like The Killers, Jim ThorpeAll American and The Crimson Pirate showed Lancaster the athlete but with Come Back, Little Sheba he really took a darker turn and it's a wonder what his fans thought at the time. Lancaster was always brilliant at using his eyes and smile to show feelings without having to say a word. We could just look into his eyes and know exactly what he was thinking and feeling.
That aspect of Lancaster really comes through here in a couple very memorable scenes. The first one happens early on when he first meets the young girl who wants to rent the room. Lancaster doesn't say a word, yet by the way he looks at her, we know he's missing what it's like being young. The gentleness in this scene is due to a great actor not having to say anything yet we can tell everything going through his mind. The other moment occurs after he falls off the wagon and goes on a rampage after his wife. In this scene he says a lot of bad things but the look in his eyes are of pure hate and the way this comes off is a lot more frightening than anything he says.
The final twenty minutes of the film are without a doubt very shocking and frightening at the same time. I'm sure it was a lot more frightening back in 1952 but it still hasn't lost its punch in 2004. After Lancaster falls off the wagon he returns home where his depression and anger over his past catches up with him and the only thing he can do is take it out on his wife. Throughout the film, Lancaster the gentleman was someone we really cared for, much like the way his wife cared for him. Then, when the alcohol comes out we are terrified of him just as his wife is. With this scene the movie pushes what alcoholism can do to a person and the film shows us without having to resort to any kind of speeches or preaching.
Throughout the years many films have dealt with alcoholism but Come Back, Little Sheba could perhaps be the very best at showing two sides of a person. This is a very depressing and sometimes very ugly film but it remains truthful and to me, that's all you can really hope for.
A decade or two of not having last seen this, I found it disappointing.
Shirley Booth, of course, is brilliant. Hers is one of the great screen
performances. (And what a shame she made so few movies!) Rating this it
based solely on her performance, I'd give it a 10. But the rest is not
Burt Lancaster does a creditable acting job but he just isn't believable as the beaten-down husband of a woman Booth's age. His presence may have helped sell some tickets but this is miscasting of a serious sort. (Lancaster is an actor I like very much, from his early films in the 1940s through, especially, to his later roles in "Atlantic City" and "Conversation Piece." Even in those, though, when he was around the age he was playing in this movie, he seems wrong for the temperament of Doc -- even though he plays a frustrated older man in each.)
One of the major flaws of "Come Back Little Sheba" is the focus on Terry Moore and her romances. Her acting is all right for what it is but the balance of this delicate story is tipped and the movie at times seems like one of the many forties romantic comedies tracing the dating lives of high school or college girls.)
The way I see it, the Shirley Booth character is a little bit of Blanche DuBois and a little bit of Amanda Wingfield. Doc is little like Tom Wingfield (Amanda's song.) And Moore and her boyfriends, neither of whom is particularly likable, are all like the gentleman caller. Hollywood was full of movies about characters like the gentleman caller and the Moore character. Sometimes these movies work. In this case, they all but sink a small, delicate story whose highlight is the heartbreakingly lovely performance of a character actress who was also a major Broadway star.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Although it was Shirley Booth who won an Academy Award for "Come Back, Little Sheba", I think it's Burt Lancaster who really shines. He had to fight to get the part of Doc Delaney, a middle-aged alcoholic. The studios thought that it would damage his reputation as a leading man. But I think it just showed me that he was not only incredibly attractive, but also a magnificent actor. His best part is the scene that is really the turning point of the movie, where Doc gets drunk after being sober for almost a year. He tells his wife exactly what he thinks is wrong with their marriage: the fact that she never does the cooking and the cleaning. In fact, she never does anything. Of course, it's more that just constructive criticism when Doc pulls a knife on Lola. But that event changes both of them for the better, and the ending is beautiful. This is definitely a movie worth seeing, so I recommend it to anyone!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A very gloomy Hal Wallis production based on the play by William Inge.
The focus being on a couple of less glamorous people; Doc Delanely(Burt
Lancaster) is a recovering alcoholic sharing a mundane life with his
frumpy and unkempt wife Lola(Shirley Booth), who lives in anticipation
of her runaway little puppy Sheba returning home. She also holds
herself guilty for their troubled wedding twenty years ago. When Lola
rents out a room to an attractive college student Marie(Terry Moore)
Doc becomes bothered by her youth and her activities with a
The household already in stress changes its dynamic and the emotional disturbance causes Doc to wobble off the road of sobriety. Lola, precariously needy and a bit backward, all but completely comes unhinged. Doc and Lola in the need of each other suffer their nagging feelings of failure. This movie still packs a wallop. The characters draw you in rather quickly then hang your emotions out to dry. The role earned Booth an Oscar. Lancaster seems rather young for the role, but believable as Doc. Also in the cast: Philip Ober, Edwin Max and Walter Kelley.
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