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"Death and the Joyful Woman" is a rather obvious storyline, featuring silent screen heartthrob Gilbert Roland as wealthy wine merchant Luis Aguilar, whose son Al (Don Galloway) followed after his teetotaler mother, spurning the father by refusing to enter into an arranged marriage that would have enhanced the family business. When Al requests 5000 dollars to start a family from his still bitter father, Luis decides to humiliate the boy by offering him a bet, to drink his more experienced father under the table (something Luis couldn't do to his father until he was 26). The victorious Luis then proceeds to force his unwanted attentions upon the beautiful Kitty Norris (Laura Devon), thereby spurning his fiancée Ruth (Laraine Day), who had faithfully worked as his secretary for 20 years before he finally promised to marry her. Also appearing is Frank Overton, best remembered for the STAR TREK episode "This Side of Paradise," broadcast less than two months before he died in 1967. Incidentally, the 'Joyful Woman' is a reference to the father's favorite wine.
Written/adapted by later writer director JAMES BRIDGES, this promises
more than it delivers. Nothing much happens for most of the episode and
then the suspense is sort of bungled in the final segment. Gilbert
Roland is quite good as the ugly father. There is one nice crane shot
towards the end otherwise it's rather flatly directed by John Brahm. It
might not be easy to turn an early drinking contest into a suspense or
dramatic scene but Brahm doesn't even try. But it's the story that
doesn't allow for anything to really happen until far too late in the
There are a number of sets including an impressive wine cellar. The dialogue is natural but unmemorable as are the characters other than Roland and his wife. The suspense involves--and I won't ruin it-- so let me say it involves a sort of ticking clock type device and the problem is the clock keeps showing the same time of day even though many minutes are passing by in the story. This may have been a production design problem but regardless it's poorly staged.
There is also one pretty big coincidence that occurs, also to help set up suspense in the final 15 minutes. So for a suspense show where there isn't any suspense for most of it and then what there is isn't done very well can't be a total success--to say the least. Roland is the chief reason to watch this one.
Hell hath no fury as a woman spurned is so appropriate for this
Gilbert Roland steals the show as a very nasty wine baron who wants his son to out drink him in order to give him $5,000 for the birth of his child. When the son is able to outlast his father and passes out, Roland condemns him and throws him out.
Of course, all that wine made Roland more lecherous as he tries to convince the girl he wanted his son to marry, to marry him now instead.
Laraine Day plays the faithful secretary who dutifully waited for Roland's wife to die for 20 years. When this actually occurred, Roland promised marriage to be announced that evening. Realizing that this will never take place, Day kills him and attempts to murder the servant who she tells what she has done.
I thought that there would be a trial and the girl who pushed Roland down the stairs after his desires were told to her, would be blamed. That would have been much more interesting.
It's odd seeing the two movie vets and romantic leads (Day & Roland)
playing villainous types. Of course Ruth (Day) has pretty good reason
for her actions since Luis (Roland) spurns their 20-year relationship
in favor of the young blonde lovely, Kitty (Devon). The tyranical Luis
lords his authority over everyone in his wine-making empire, including
his disowned son, Al (Galloway). So it's not too surprising that he
comes to a bad end.
Reviewer HEFILM is right onthe episode fails to deliver the suspense implicit in the premise. Certainly, director Brahm doesn't seem engaged, filming in straightforward pedestrian style. Too bad, because when engaged, he can turn out moody thrillers, such as The Lodger (1944) and Hangover Square (1945). I guess this was just another TV assignment, which leaves the flawed screenplay unfortunately unadorned. Anyhow, in my little book, the screenplay could have dispensed with the son and his girl and concentrated instead on playing up Kitty's apparent guilt and factotum Dominic's ordeal in the wine tub. As it stands, however, the entry's more a matter of lumpy threads than coherent suspenser.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
***SPOILERS*** Late 1920's into the 1950's movie Latin lover and
Hollywood heartthrob Gilbert Roland-aka Luis Antonio Damaso-in a role
that he really can sink his teeth into as wine as well as woman
connoisseur Louis Aguilar. Louis as we soon find out is a man who knows
both his wine and women and can't get enough of each.
It's Louis tea totting son Al, Don Galloway, whom he has it in for by not marrying pretty Kitty Norris, Laura Devon, and has cut him out of his will. It's Kitty's family who own one of the biggest wineries in the valley that Louis wanted Al to marry her in order to get his grubby, after her pop dies, hands on it! With Al marrying plain and not rich hometown girl Maggie Pierce he's now facing deep financial troubles in that he's flat broke, all he's got is $2.40 to his name, and can't support his family with Maggie pregnant and a baby soon on the way.
Going to see papa Louis who invited him to one of his all night drinking parties Al is willing to go down on his hands and knees begging him for help against his better judgment! What Al doesn't realize is that pop is planning to humiliate him by getting his non alcoholic son into an all night drinking match in his infamous tasting room with him winning $5,000.00 if he can drink Louis under the table which of course, in Louis being the soppy drunk that he is, is an impossible task for him!
**SPOILERS*** The real story behind all this maneuvering actions by the barley sober Louis is in him getting up the courage by getting himself good and drunk to make an announcement to all present, some 100 inverted guests, that he's to become engaged to and marry Kitty Norris! The woman whom he wanted his son Al to marry and who's young enough to be his daughter! That's when the woman who spent the last 20 years taking all the garbage that she could put up with Louis' his loyal abused and low paid secretary Ruth, Laraine Day,took matters into her own hands. Being almost dead drunk and blurting out his true feelings about marrying Kitty sealed Louis' fate in him getting clobbered over the head with a bottle of his favorite drink the "Youthful Woman" wine by an outraged Ruth that ended all his future plans!
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