While working as a counselor at a summer camp, college-student Marjorie Morgenstern falls for 32-year-old Noel Airman, a would-be dramatist working at a nearby summer theater. Like Marjorie...
See full summary »
Cash McCall is a young and slick business man who buys failing businesses and resells them. Grant Austen's Plastics is even more of a prize to Cash, for Cash is also making a bid for ... See full summary »
Angie Rossini is an innocent Italian Catholic Macy's salesgirl, who discovers she's pregnant from a fling with Rocky, a musician. Angie finds Rocky (who doesn't remember her at first) to ... See full summary »
A railroad official, Owen Legate comes to Dodson, Mississippi to shut down much of the town's railway (town's main income). Owen unexpectedly finds love with Dodson's flirt and main ... See full summary »
College students Andy Shaeffer and Susan Daniels are pinned. While Susan works hard to put herself through college, Andy sponges off his parents, his mother, Madeline Shaeffer, who in ... See full summary »
While working as a counselor at a summer camp, college-student Marjorie Morgenstern falls for 32-year-old Noel Airman, a would-be dramatist working at a nearby summer theater. Like Marjorie, he is an upper-middle-class New York Jew (born 'Ehrman'), but has fallen away from his roots, and Marjorie's parents object among other things to his lack of a suitable profession, such as medicine or law. Noel himself warns Marjorie repeatedly that she's much too naive and conventional for him, but they nonetheless fall in love. As they pursue an on-again-off-again relationship, Marjorie completes her studies at Hunter College, and works to establish an acting career, while Noel first leaves the theater for a job with an advertising agency, but later completes a musical he'd started writing before he and Marjorie had first met. Meanwhile, their relationship deepens (though, consistent with '50s Hollywood mores, the more full-fledged sexuality in their relationship is never explicitly communicated... Written by
I saw this film as a kid in its initial release, and was very moved. I just watched it again tonight, and was very annoyed. There is not a genuine note in this film from beginning to end.
Hollywood had dealt before with cultural assimilation and and the complexities of mixed marriage, but with the introduction of the Production Code in 1934, a lot of the old ethnic clichés became out of bounds. Identifiably Jewish character actors like Benny Rubin suddenly couldn't find work. Ed Wynn, Jack Benny and the Marx Brothers prospered, but without the Jewish jokes.
This film was one of the major entries in a renewed attempt by Hollywood to deal with the old stories. I can't review the book, as I have no plans to seek it out for the purposes of "compare and contrast." But the film is so thoroughly confused about who and what it is about, that it winds up being about nothing.
I believe Herman Wouk was a party to the compromises. The film credits Beachwold Productions, which points directly to Wouk's summer house at the time.
Natalie Wood can do everything she is asked to do, which is a relief - that wasn't always the case. Gene Kelly is a bit stiff and heavy, as he always was in non-musical roles. By casting him, the film gives up on any more subtle characterization of Noel Airman, and turns into the umpteenth remake of "Abie's Irish Rose." I don't buy Kelly as a renegade anything and neither did the original audience. The film becomes just another story of the princess and shaygetz dancing around each other for two long hours, and never rises above dreariness. Even Ed Wynn is dreary.
I suppose someone at Warner Brothers saw the business Universal was doing with Ross Hunter's hyperventilating melodramas, but I hate to say this: Natalie Wood is no Lana Turner. Director Irving Rapper takes part of the blame: he's no Douglas Sirk. Rapper was a weak, compliant, flabby director who needed a strong producer and editor to assemble his takes into something watchable. Unfortunately this film just flails around like a dying fish on a dock. It doesn't begin to succeed on any level.
I hope no one is ever crazy enough to try a remake. This one is really over.
11 of 18 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this