"The Road," the 1st episode of Season 7 of "The Loretta Young Show," may be one of the best episodes of the entire series.
In shades of "Dark Victory," a socialite finds she has a brain tumor that will kill her. She goes to Paris but the doctors tell her the same thing. And, again, like Judy Trahern of "DV," Alice goes on a drinking binge, terribly afraid to feel her fear.
Her husband, from whom she is separated because of a dalliance he had with his secretary, is remorseful and genuinely worried about his wife. He knows something is wrong but she won't reveal her troubles; she doesn't trust him.
But this is is not a carbon copy of that wonderful 1939 classic. This episode is its own story. To continue: She lands in Paris and goes on a drinking spree. Later, while speeding along a French highway at more than 70 mph in the dark, she hits a little boy (played so wonderfully by Joseph Cuby). The child, miraculously, is not hurt and, in fact, endears himself to the troubled woman. He recognizes the burns on her fingers (caused by cigarettes). "I saw another woman with burns like that on her hand. She had a brain tumor," the boy said. How the quirky relationship between this little boy and the socialite blossoms is a wonder to behold. The child, though persistent, is never cloying or annoying; instead, he seems to care genuinely for this poor woman. He encourages her to visit Lourdes and what happens there will remain a secret; I don't "do" spoilers. (Don't jump to any conclusions; the ending is not as obvious as that).
But the real lesson in this wonderful production is the faith that radiates from this boy. He doesn't wear his religion like a piece of clothing that most people put on for Sunday and take off Monday; it's as much a part of him as the air he breathes. He lives it, breathes it and teaches it, all without being sickeningly sweet or preachy. You come away knowing this child and his faith are inseparable. That may be the best part of the movie and I don't believe it's a spoiler because it shows from their first meeting. Double Kudos to Joseph Cuby, the young actor who played that child. He is perfect and so cute.
Loretta Young made it a point to make quality family-friendly television. It is slanted toward the Roman Catholic tradition then more power to her; it makes her shows even more wonderful and I'm grateful for that "slant." I'm a Roman Catholic so I recognized immediately what was happening. Each episode told a moral tale but were never preachy. And when she came out through the door in those beautiful, free-flowing, flouncy dresses, it made me long for the days when women took real pride in their appearance and looked beautiful, feminine and graceful without looking like street-walkers. Miss Young may have done questionable and unsavory things in her life, for which she made amends but even if she hadn't atoned for her past, I'm sure she went straight to heaven when she died in 2000 of ovarian cancer because of her wonderful TV show and episodes such as "The Road." Thank you, Miss Young, and God Bless You.
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