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The combined credits of William Holden and Deborah Kerr will contain the titles of the best films of the Fifties. But The Proud And Profane will never go down in the top 10 list of either of these stars.
Kerr is a Red Cross volunteer sent to New Caledonia which was a major US base in the Pacific War in the Forties. She's a recent widow of a Marine Lieutenant killed at Guadalcanal. Now she's in her grief trying to make some kind of atonement. What we don't need here is women on some kind of pilgrimage as her new supervisor at the Red Cross played by Thelma Ritter points out. In fact Ritter tries many times during the film to give Kerr a reality check.
Holden was her husband's brigade commander and one tougher than usually tough Marine. Apparently her husband was a sensitive sort and Holden is unlike him in just about every way. In fact Holden is brutally frank about wanting to get to know her intimately and does.
After which he undergoes a complete change of heart. And it turns out he's married most unhappily to a woman back in the states.
These two stars had all the chemistry of vinegar and peppermint lifesavers. Funny because very soon Kerr was to be cast with Robert Mitchum in Heaven Knows Mr. Allison where he plays a tough Marine and she a nun. Those two were wonderful on screen together. But no movie magic emanated from the silver screen with Holden and Kerr.
William Redfield plays a chaplain and some of those scenes with Holden were like Spock and McCoy going back and forth. Redfield was way too self righteous in a way DeForest Kelley never was.
Best in the film is Thelma Ritter who many times is just that. And Adam Williams has a small, but key role as a gravedigger and tender in the new cemetery on Guadalcanal. He's the one who finally gives Kerr the ultimate of reality checks.
Definitely a film for fans of the two stars and Thelma Ritter.
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