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In 1961, TWA began showing in-flight movies on a regular basis. This film kicked-off the program and became the first movie screened in-flight by an airline. See also Come September (1961). But for the very first in-flight movie see The Lost World (1925). See more »
Likely to be lumped together with Turner's other late 50's/early 60's glossy, starring vehicles, this is actually more of an ensemble piece, based on a large, sprawling novel, and Turner is denied a chance to really take the reins. The plot (which is based on only the last part of the 25 year-long story in the novel) concerns small town lawyer Zimbalist, who, in the matter of a day or two, discovers that his wife (Bel Geddes) is discontent, his son (Hamilton) resents him, his father-in-law (Mitchell) is mishandling the firm's funds and his partner's wife (Turner) has the hots for him. Turner's husband (Robards) is impotent as the result of a car accident, so she turns to the bottle for comfort and eventually to Zimbalist. Meanwhile, Hamilton is fed up with the expectations of his family and of the town in which they live and disses fiancée Kohner for town floozie Craig. This kicks off a series of troublesome events which wind up affecting all of the characters, bringing some of them closer together, but destroying others. The film has a splendid musical score by Elmer Bernstein (even if his music for Turner and Zimbalist's fateful meeting sounds more apt for a swashbuckler than an illicit rendezvous.) It's also helmed by the rather solid Sturges, though it seems he wasn't the man best-suited to material like this. An irresistible cast flounders and flops it's way through the strained storyline with only the occasional unintentional laugh to make it bearable. Zimbalist, never the most dynamic actor, lacks the charisma to hold up the film. Robards is given little to do and does pretty little with it. Hamilton (well-cast as Zimbalist's son) never conveys the necessary emotion or depth for his role. Mitchell quite easily steals most of his scenes with his customary bombast and presence. Turner (decked out in one of her worst-ever hairstyles and looking quite bloated facially at times) is given a smallish, fairly ludicrous role to play. Her clothes in the film, despite having a name designer doing them, cover all the bases from drab to garish to unflattering to preposterous with only one or two making the grade of appealing. Apart from that, Turner is often bland and wooden, not to mention insincere and bored-looking. Tellingly, she shares no scenes with the stage-trained Bel Geddes who, even with virtually no make-up and even duller clothing, completely waltzes off with the acting honors in the film. The glamor-proof Bel Geddes adds texture and feeling to yet another silly role in the film (her character is in the hospital for a week due to an accident on the tennis court??) Kohner is a close second, injecting emotion into her cipher-like role of the dejected sweetheart. The real hoot is Craig, who refers to herself in the third person and plays the town squeeze with notable haughtiness (her mom in the film is also a brief treat.) It's got expensive (but strangely unappealing) sets, luxurious trappings, a rather seedy storyline and a name cast, but somehow remains dull, drab and unengaging. Worth a look for pre-"Dallas" Bel Geddes and for fans of Kohner and Turner completists.
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