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Tom Lee is a sensitive boy of 17 whose lack of interest in the "manly" pursuits of sports, mountain climbing and girls labels him "sister-boy" at the college he is attending. Head master Bill Reynold's wife Laura sees Tom's suffering at the hands of his school mates (and her husband), and tries to help him find himself. Written by
Ron Kerrigan <email@example.com>
It is true that this film, made in 1956, two years after it appeared on the stage, is dated. And it is true, in real 1950s style, the characters may seem very contrived, and the dialogue very scripted. But Tea and Sympathy tells a very real and poignant story and if you allow yourself simply to be swept up by that, rather than looking at the film in a sceptical and critical manner, you may actually enjoy it. John Kerr does a wonderful job of playing a teenage boy, Tom Lee, who cannot seem to fit in with those around him, and Leif Erickson does just as good a job portraying the schoolmaster Bill Reynolds, who sees being 'manly' as one of the most important things there is. And lovely, refined Deborah Kerr (no relation to John Kerr), in the role she played on stage, does an impressive job of portraying Laura Reynolds, the love-starved faculty wife who still thinks about the husband she lost in the war. And she is the one who is disturbed by the treatment Tom gets from his schoolmates, and even from her husband himself, and she is the one who takes action to try and help him. The fact that there are large references to 'out of bounds' sexual activity in the film make it rather unique and daring for the decade in which it was released. Director Vincente Minnelli does a superb job of capturing the sexual tension within the Reynolds house and makes the film that much less twee. A great film, and a must see for Deborah Kerr fans.
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