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Ralph and Annabell Willart are a feuding couple who are constantly bickering over their worthless, good-for nothing son Berry-Berry. When Berry-Berry begins yet another meaningless love affair, this time with an older woman named Echo O'Brien, he really gets his parents at each others' throats. Written by
When Mrs. Mandel waves a $50 bill at Berry-Berry, the bill turns upside down between the long shot and the close-up. See more »
[Berry-Berry has gotten himself in trouble again, requiring yet another effort on Ralph's part to wire him "rescue" money]
Yeah, that knucklehead's got it in his head that Western Union is some sort of bank. I'll tell you what he's good at: he's a colossal expert at getting money outta' Western Union. You know what he went and did?
He didn't tell ya', huh?... You know who he took a poke at? A woman! He don't fool around, that big gorilla, no sirree. Some dame says something he don't like... ...
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John Frankenheimer was not a director of domestic dramas. Working on the James Leo Herlihy novel, adapted by William Inge, Mr. Frankenheimer shows his versatility in "All Fall Down". The director working with some of the best actors of the era, created a film that, although forgotten, had a lot going for it.
We are introduced to Berry-Berry Willart, a young man from Cleveland. He is in jail, as the movie opens. It appears Berry-Berry has a problem with beating women. Berry-Berry's problems seems to stem from a deeply rooted complex with his home life. He would have been a candidate for analysis because he probably would have been able to get a rein on his problem. Since he is seen as young stud, he attracts the kind of women that are either insecure, or have not a great sex life. His younger brother, Clinton, has come to what appears to be Key West, to bail him out.
Berry-Berry decides to stick around Florida, a fertile ground for what he is looking for. We watch him as he is hired by an older woman, Mrs. Mandel, for a trip to the Bahamas in her husband's yacht. Later, Berry-Berry catches a ride north with the lonely schoolteacher going home for a Christmas vacation. The trip ends as the young man beats the mousy schoolteacher and lands in jail.
In the meantime, we are taken to the Willart home. Annabell is a nagging wife that appears to be unfulfilled with the life she and Ralpht, her alcoholic husband, lead in Cleveland. Clinton, the younger son, is plainly aware of the unhappiness around him. He seems to live in his own world, tuning out the bickering between his parents.
Enter Echo O'Brian, the young and pretty friend of the family. Echo is a happy go lucky "old maid", by her own account, in her early thirties. It's obvious her interest in men is limited. When Berry-Berry, the prodigal son returns for a visit, Echo feels sexually aroused by the young stud. Suddenly, it appears that Berry-Berry is changed until he realizes Echo was hiding something from him. This discovery ends in tragedy.
Warren Beatty was probably made to look like a Jimmy Dean by the studio in order to capitalize on his good looks. Mr. Beatty was a strange actor; on dramatic roles, he is not as effective as when he played rogues, or comedies. Evidently Mr. Frankenheimer was after something that doesn't come across quite clearly, but Mr. Beatty's Berry-Berry, is a light weight playing against more accomplished actors.
Eva Maria Saint is perfect as Echo. She is a woman who hasn't experienced much in her life. When she meets Berry-Berry, she suddenly is able to experience all what she probably has denied herself. Angela Lansbury has one of the best moments of her brilliant career as Annabell. Ms. Lansbury, who went to work with Mr. Frankenheimer in "The Manchurian Candidate", is one of the best reasons for watching the movie. In fact, Mr. Herlihy's book seems to have been adapted by Mr. Inge as though he was presenting one of his frustrated midwest women that were his specialty.
Karl Malden also fares well under Mr. Frankenheimer's direction. Being a more experienced actor of stage and screen, Mr. Malden gives a realistic portrayal of Ralph, a man lost in alcohol, in order to escape the dreary married life with Annabell. Brandon de Wilde, as Clinton also does a good job as Clinton, the young Willart that knows all the secrets in his family. The minor roles are played well by Constance Ford, who only has a scene, but she makes the best of her Mrs. Mandel. Also, Barbara Baxley, another stage actress that knew the lonely and insecure schoolteacher she is seen playing.
The film also has a good music score by Alex North and a crisp black and white cinematography by Lionel Lindon. In fact, the print we recently viewed appears to have been kept in mint condition.
John Frankenheimer has to be congratulated for his achievement in this film.
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