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Washed up singer/actor Frank Elgin has a chance to make a come-back when director Bernie Dodd offers him the leading role in his new musical. Frank however is very insecure, turns to alcohol and shuns even the smallest of responsibilities, leaving everything up to his wife Georgie who finds it harder and harder to cope with her husband's lack of spirit. Bernie tries to help Frank regain his self-confidence, believing that it is Georgie who's the cause of his insecurity. Written by
Leon Wolters <wolters@strw.LeidenUniv.nl>
Stage director William Holden fights with his producer over casting alcoholic-on-the-mend singer Bing Crosby as the lead in their newest musical production; Crosby's wife Grace Kelly, a no-nonsense type who dresses glumly, appears to be Crosby's rock but may in fact be what's crippling him. Peculiar melodrama is absorbing and interesting, well-paced and literate, but is also show-offy and fairly shallow. Everyone is unnaturally tense and forlorn, and the spirit of the piece is held back to showcase all the angst. Kelly won a Best Actress Oscar, and although her acting is solid, it's a clichéd part (one waits for her to make that visible transformation, and it happens right on cue; though to credit the filmmakers, a big fuss isn't made of it). Crosby was an odd choice for the role of the former star on the comeback trail; his style of acting is resolutely old-fashioned and, although he does good work, he looks so much older than Holden and Kelly--and his general style is older still--his performance sequences seem distinctly out-of-touch (even for 1954). Holden is the acting stand-out (he was the only one of the three leads not Oscar-nominated), and his innate grit and conflict are something the viewer can get a grip on; Holden immediately connects with the audience because he is completely focused and seems to bring this mannered material back down to earth (he makes it mean something). The plot functions are square and uptight, and the musical production within the film looks pretty hoary, but the drama and human interaction is still worthwhile on a soap opera level. **1/2 from ****
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