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This first movie version of the Tennessee Williams play about a faded, aging Southern belle, her shy, crippled daughter and her "selfish dreamer" of a son more or less sticks to the original story, except for a compromise ending which strives to be more upbeat.Written by
Eugene Kim <email@example.com>
The Glass Menagerie (1950) is a glaring example of how Hollywood politics influence film adaptations of stage plays. In the theatre, the celebrated star turn is traditionally Amanda's, followed in stature by Tom, Laura and, at a distant fourth, Jim. The casting of the screen version gives star billing to the characters of Laura (Jane Wyman) and Jim (Kirk Douglas), leaving stage legend Gertrude Lawrence with third billing. Thus, from the first moments of the main title, the film has left many audiences and critics with a sense that the adaptation was skewed. See more »
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Gloomy and ponderous are the first words that come to mind when viewing this Warner film directed by Irving Rapper and starring stage star Getrude Lawrence as Amanda Wingfield. While this casting choice gives the film a novel touch, her performance--sometimes strong, sometimes subtle--is not enough to bring the story to vivid life.
Instead, it seems oddly stagebound despite Rapper's attempt to open it up occasionally. JANE WYMAN seems too old to convincingly portray the girl who is crippled socially and physically, as quiet and sensitive as she is. ARTHUR KENNEDY does well with the role of her restless brother (the sort of character he so often played) and KIRK DOUGLAS seems a rather odd choice to play the girl's suitor.
Somehow, none of it really jells.
The viewer is left with the impression that this must have seemed wonderful on the stage (since it was such a well-known hit by Tennessee Williams), but whatever ingredients made it sparkle as a play are sorely missing from the film. In the end, it seems nothing more than an artificial piece and the dialog is never laced with the gossamer effect of poetry that is usually associated with Williams' best works.
The pace is leisurely and never does the story seem vibrant enough to convince us that the events are really happening. Instead, we have an awareness that Jane Wyman is "acting" the role of Laura and Gertrude Lawrence is doing her best to tone down her stage mannerisms and give a natural performance as Amanda.
Summing up: Not the best of Tennessee's work on screen.
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