Journalist Steve O'Malley (Spencer Tracy) wants to write a biography of a national hero who died when his car ran off a bridge. Steve receives conflicting reports and tales that make him que... Read allJournalist Steve O'Malley (Spencer Tracy) wants to write a biography of a national hero who died when his car ran off a bridge. Steve receives conflicting reports and tales that make him question what the truth about the hero is.Journalist Steve O'Malley (Spencer Tracy) wants to write a biography of a national hero who died when his car ran off a bridge. Steve receives conflicting reports and tales that make him question what the truth about the hero is.
An Absorbing and Sadly Overlooked Mystery-Drama.
"Keeper of the Flame"(1942)was the second film starring the team of Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn. Their first was the delightful George Stevens comedy,"Woman of the Year",which was a smash hit at the Box Office. However,many critics consider their second film to be a not bad, but lesser teaming. This is mainly because the characters Tracy and Hepburn play lack the romantic chemistry that was evident in their other films. Also,because of the dark theme of the plot,there is no room for any comical moments. With that said, "Keeper of the Flame" is a brilliant mystery-drama with a timely theme:the dangers of false hero-worship. Steven O'Malley(Spencer Tracy)is a reporter wanting to write a story on the life of Robert Forrest,a beloved American hero, who has suddenly been killed in a tragic car accident. O'Malley has found it difficult to get an interview with the devastated widow,Christine Forrest(Katharine Hepburn). While waiting for the interview, he encounters peculiar people well-acquainted with the deceased. He meets Forrest's brother-in-law(Forrest Tucker),an embittered man,who seems to despise Forrest, a young boy(Daryll Hickman),who admires Forrest so much,he feels responsible for his death,and Forrest's fussy secretary(Richard Whorf),who isn't what he seems to be. The young boy leads O'Malley to Christine Forrest. O'Malley expects Christine to be well in her middle-age,but he's startled to see she isn't that old. Christine isn't very helpful with the story;she's quite distant when O'Malley asks her certain questions. O'Malley also finds out that Forrest's mother(Margaret Wycherly)is still living. Her identity is near-hidden, so he decides to meet her. Christine claims she's a mentally-disturbed invalid,but O'Malley feels she knows more than she has been given credit for. Meeting these people,O'Malley comes to the startling realization that Robert Forest,a supposed "American hero",isn't such a great human being. The acting is vivid and realistic. Katharine Hepburn is excellent in the challenging role of a woman who knows what her husband was really like,but must be "the keeper of the flame." Spencer Tracy is extremely effective as a reporter,who's beliefs have been shattered. The sparkling supporting cast makes the mystery even more intriguing. George Cukor does a terrific job of directing by never having unnecessary scenes and building up the suspense slowly to make the ending have a lasting impression. Cukor's work here foreshadows his work on the psychological dramas,"Gaslight"(1944) and "A Double Life"(1947). The cinematography is stark and always draws the viewer's attention. The score is appropriately overpowering. The film has some similarities to the overrated,"Citizen Kane."(1941) It's similar in that the main character is a deceased American figure,who's isn't what he seems to be. Also,in both films,the main character lives in a dark,mysterious house. However,the viewer has sympathy for Charles Foster Kane,whereas no one feels sorry for Robert Forrest. I recommend this film and give it a strong 8 1/2 out of 10.
- Mar 26, 2002
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