At an exclusive psychiatric clinic, the doctors and staff are about as crazy as the patients. The clinic head, Dr. Stewart McIver, thinks that it would be good therapy for his patients to ...
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Charles Hill Mailes,
At an exclusive psychiatric clinic, the doctors and staff are about as crazy as the patients. The clinic head, Dr. Stewart McIver, thinks that it would be good therapy for his patients to design and make new drapes for the library. Mrs. Karen McIver, who is neglected by her hardworking husband (and a bit unbalanced herself), wants to make her mark on the clinic, so she orders new drapes. Miss Inch, the business manager, who has been with the clinic longer than anyone, sees this as an intrusion into her territory, and she too orders drapes. All this puts everyone in a dither, as they fight over drapes and clinic politics.Written by
John Oswalt <email@example.com>
You can see what attracted Minnelli to this story, as it's partly about a conflict over decor. Maybe this worked in the novel, but it's hardly the stuff of compelling screen drama. Of course the choice of drapes is symbolic of independence to the patients, and symbolic of her power to Miss Inch, and it's actually a realistically mundane conflict such as might actually occur anywhere. It just seems to be much ado about nothing when it's acted out.
Minnelli uses a bit of the soundtrack of Seven Brides For Seven Brothers, here (the picture that trumped his own Brigadoon at the box office) - in a scene at the movies. Guess he had no hard feelings.
One of Minnelli's interesting misfires. Even though it doesn't really work, I've seen it three or four times.
The acting is good, overall. Richard Widmark (as the director of the clinic) has two leading ladies, Lauren Bacall and Gloria Grahame. This is one of the few times I've ever really seen Grahame miscast. She had a wide range, after all she played everything from Violet Bick in It's A Wonderful Life, to Rosemary Bartlow in The Bad And The Beautiful, to Ado Annie in Oklahoma. But I think you will agree her role defeats her best efforts here. She starts out very well but I'm not sure I always understood where she was coming from as the film wore on. Bacall plays a simple, sensible girl, and does a good job. Lillian Gish plays the unpredictable Miss Inch, Charles Boyer the self-destructing Dr. Devanal, John Kerr the young and artistic Stevie (a role originally announced for James Dean). Oscar Levant is called upon to go outside his usual comfort zone and I'm not sure he makes it. Susan Strasburg is excellent in a small role.
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