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While working as a counselor at a summer camp, college-student Marjorie Morgenstern falls for 32-year-old Noel Airman, a would-be dramatist working at a nearby summer theater. Like Marjorie, he is an upper-middle-class New York Jew (born 'Ehrman'), but has fallen away from his roots, and Marjorie's parents object among other things to his lack of a suitable profession, such as medicine or law. Noel himself warns Marjorie repeatedly that she's much too naive and conventional for him, but they nonetheless fall in love. As they pursue an on-again-off-again relationship, Marjorie completes her studies at Hunter College, and works to establish an acting career, while Noel first leaves the theater for a job with an advertising agency, but later completes a musical he'd started writing before he and Marjorie had first met. Meanwhile, their relationship deepens (though, consistent with '50s Hollywood mores, the more full-fledged sexuality in their relationship is never explicitly communicated...Written by
I have reviewed well over 13,000 films here on IMDb. Because of that, I have noticed that with most films there is a certain sameness and predictability about them. And, in light of this, I was very pleasantly surprised by "Marjorie Morningstar"--a truly unique and lovely film from start to finish.
Natalie Wood plays Marjorie Morganstern--a very impressionable 18 year-old who goes off to work at a summer camp. There she meets an older man (while the character was supposed to be 32, Gene Kelly was 46 at the time) who seems very talented and highly attractive. It's no surprise she falls for him, but all he really wants, at first, is to score with her. For 1958, the film is very blunt about this and even uses the word 'sex'--very, very unusual for its time. However, she wants more. When her parents find out about him, her mother is particularly worried--at 32, Noel (Kelly) should be more than just a summer camp counselor. As far as Marjorie is concerned, however, Noel is a genius--and will one day be a great playwright. It's clearly a case of a young girl seeing a man as she HOPES he'll be versus who he really is. What's next? See the film.
The film has many strong things going for it other than the uniqueness of the plot. For Kelly, it's a wonderful opportunity to get away from his pretty-boy song and dance persona and show some depth. And, for Wood, it's one of her first non-child roles where she is a serious leading lady. Apart from their nice work as well as some strong support from Ed Wynn and Martin Milner, the film has a gorgeous musical score--very haunting and sweet. Overall, this is a lovely film--- with so much more going for it.
UPDATE: I just saw a rerun of an old fifties TV show "Four Star Playhouse" and noticed that "Breakfast in Bed" actually had a lot in common with the film. However, while the film was hard-edged and rather sad, the show was more comedic...and less interesting.
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