Anson Page, a lawyer with Southern roots leaves New York, his wife and his kids for Georgia. His assignment is to investigate the case of Garvin Wales, a famous writer, now nearly blind and...
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Anson Page, a lawyer with Southern roots leaves New York, his wife and his kids for Georgia. His assignment is to investigate the case of Garvin Wales, a famous writer, now nearly blind and embittered, whose royalties have apparently never reached him. Back in his native South, Page finds himself immediately exposed to what he had fled : racial and class prejudices. But he also meets his former love, Dinah, now married to go-getter uncouth businessman Mickey Higgins. Will he find out whatever happened to 2,000 dollars in rights Wales did not cash? Will Dinah and Anson renew their love story? Written by
Dana Wynter was said to have remarked, "I have a difficult time remembering this film, especially when fans tell me they have enjoyed it, because of the fact it had a different title in just about every country it played in." See more »
Lushly-Beautiful; Nearly a Great Movie; Absorbing and Memorable
For fifty years, this film which I consider to be near-miss try at a classic drama of ideas has been one of my favorite films. Philip Dunne wanted the world to appreciate lovely and talented Dana Wynter, his leading lady as writer and director on the film; and he also wanted to solve the problem of how to develop its powerful story-line to its fullest. In my judgment, he came close on both counts; there are five parts in the film that really matter, and Wynter has one of them which she does very well. And the film is good, well-liked, well-remembered. But neither the lady nor the project achieved exactly what Dunne had wished. The novel by Southerner Hamilton Basso which was the springboard for the interesting and lushly-photographed screenplay I find to be well-thought out, filled with interesting vignette characters and strong in its praise and condemnation of the South, its peoples' racism at the time and its social mores and ways. The novel has a convoluted style, which involves flashbacks to various periods in the central character Anson Page's life in a Carolina town and in New York. The basic plot device is that he is sent back to his home town for a very important reason by the book publishing company for whom he works in New York City. He is restless, at odds with his Northern wife, and frankly unprepared for how deeply Pompey's Head will affect him. "Time is a treacherous thing," he notes. His assignment is to find out why his now-dead editor, a man who had helped him to write "Shinto Traditions in the American South"--about ancestor worship mostly--has been accused of embezzling thousands of dollars from another' house author', Garvin Wales. He cannot believe his friend and mentor Philip Schuyler would steal; but he has no other explanation for the money, sent off in checks under Schuyler's name to Anna Jones. But the wife of the famous author, a Deveraux from an old family, is demanding money. So he goes home, to a bitter mystery and a dangerous mid-life crisis. The worst danger he faces, other than gossip, running into old friends and classmates and the investigation he must conduct comes seeking him. It is Dinah Blackford, his old sweetheart, now married to Michael "Mico" Higgins, CEO of "Peppo" beverages and a man trying to buy his way into the exclusive society of the town whose poor channel-born son he once was--and in the eyes of the traditional upper class still is. Over time, Page, played by powerful Richard Egan, realizes why he left the South in the first place, over racism and over the power games played by its long-time residents against those newer to wealth, the land and its ways. He finally even finds Dinah shallow, without deep honesty or an interest in ideas; she cannot leave her abusive husband because she wants the wealth of her family's ancestral plantation which she had lost but which he bought for her again with the money from his beverage business. And at the last, he also discovers the truth about the mysterious Anna Jones. Wales is by now a blind, embittered man who had nothing to do with the suit; his wife, Lucy Deveraux Wales began it...and what he finds out causes her to give up the suit and pretend her wrath had always been a silly misunderstanding. Page notes that someday soon she will even believe her own lie...and that that sort of postmodernist-Neanderthal behavior is why he must go back to his life in New York. The direction and the script by scenarist Dunne are far-above- average; in dialogue, beautiful imagery and memorable scenes this is a high-quality motion picture effort. The cinematography by Joseph MacDonald is diamond-like; the art direction by Leland Fuller and Lyle R. Wheeler is unforgettable, filled with location footage. The set decorations by Paul S. Fox and Walter M. Scott are professionally fine as are the music by Elmer Bernstein and the costumes by Charles Le Maire. In the five leads, everyone does very well. Cameron Mitchell brings energy and craft to his portrayal of Mico Higgins; Egan makes a good leading man; and in the role of Lucy Deveraux Wales Marjorie Rambeau is award-caliber, as is Sidney Blackmer as Garvin Wales, in the scenes the script allows him. Dana Wynter is lovely, talented and does a fairly good Southern accent; she is every bit the lovely aristocrat stuck mentally in the 1850s the author painted her to be. What the viewer takes away from this powerful film of personalities and ideas is a strong sense of the Carolina landscape and the magnetic pull of the past upon the lives of those in the present. All those in the film's smaller roles from De Forest Kelley as a hotel clerk to the New York firm's heads are played with intelligence. This is nearly a great film, and one of the most hauntingly memorable, by my lights, of all time...
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