In Nazi Germany in 1936 seven men escape from a concentration camp. The camp commander puts up seven crosses and, as the Gestapo returns each escapee he is put to death on a cross. The ... See full summary »
In a small Georgia town, twelve year old tomboy Frankie Addams feels unconnected to the world, a fact troubling to her. Her unconventional views for a twelve year old girl make her an outcast among her peers, which she in turn blames for her situation rather than anything of her own doing. Her only real friend is John Henry, her younger next door neighbor, although she doesn't see him as a friend since she doesn't consider him a peer. As her widowed father is all consumed with running his small business, Frankie is largely left to the care of their housekeeper, Berenice. Berenice tries to provide as much true guidance to Frankie and what Frankie considers her problems, although Berenice has her own troubles looking after her wild foster brother, Honey Camden, her only surviving family. In addition, Frankie largely sees Berenice's advice as the rantings of a large, crazy black woman. Frankie believes that she has finally found her place in life upon the return to town and announcement ... Written by
The original Broadway production of "The Member of the Wedding," by Carson McCullers opened on January 5, 1950, at the Empire Theater in New York and ran for 501 performances. See more »
Berenice Sadie Brown:
Look at your hair to begin with. Done had all your hair shaved off like a convict. You tie this ribbon around this head with no hair, it looks peculiar.
Frances 'Frankie' Addams:
But I'm going to wash and try to stretch my hair tonight.
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Were I pressed to name just five films which I consider to be the greatest of all time, THE MEMBER OF THE WEDDING would have to be amongst them. It is American cinema at its most elevated and humane, and in a strange, oblique kind of way says more about the pain, (that was once so commonplace), of being black in the USA , than many other films that deal with this issue in a more direct way. The story is so universal, and through its many metaphors applies to so many of life's experiences; it is full of compassion, humane values, humour and irony; it both warms and breaks the heart.
Every single role is acted superbly by a fine ensemble of players, but the three main characters, Julie Harris, Ethel Waters and Brandon De Wilde, are quite simply perfection, and give performances that could not be bettered. The scene where the three sit together in the growing darkness of the kitchen and together sing `His Eye Is On The Sparrow' must surely rank as one of the most sublime and moving moments in world cinema. I have watched this film on countless occasions and never fail to marvel at its artistry, and too, how it reflects human values of worth and merit, and, whenever I have introduced the film to others who didn't know it, they have never failed to thank me profusely for doing so.
Fred Zinnemann once said in an interview that it was his personal favourite of all the films he made, and I agree with him, but I would qualify his statement further by stating it is amongst the finest films that anybody has ever made! All technical values are first rate, and yet again, Alex North came up with a brilliant musical score that added yet one more layer of sheer excellence.
A film every American should watch and be proud of; not in a negative nationalistic sort of way, but in a common, shared-humanity way! Non-Americans of course should also watch it, and see a positive side of American values, and, like me, be grateful to Columbia for bringing to fruition such a risky commercial proposition. It may not have broken box-office records, but it is a true treasure in the pantheon of American cinema. One of the truly great films of all time.
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