A young woman goes home to New York after a long stay in Europe. Her former schoolmate introduces her to the decadence of New York and she ultimately falls in love with an older man who's a stand-in for her father, before tragedy strikes.
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January Wayne, the sheltered, much-loved daughter of a formerly successful Hollywood producer, goes home to New York after a lengthy stint in a Swiss hospital. Mike Wayne has fallen on hard times and decides to marry for money. January is an innocent young woman who searches for her place in the world. Pursued by her rich new stepmother's playboy of a cousin, she instead falls hard for a much older man, a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer who's a surrogate for her father, before tragedy strikes.
Ick. I missed this movie when it came out because my summer of 1975 was filled with the excitement of the Boston Red Sox and I paid attention to little else. Now that I've seen it, all I can say is, "Ick." January's unnatural adoration of her father left me feeling queasy. Well, it's probably not unnatural for a young girl to idolize her father. But it seems that her father encouraged it past the little girl stage right into adulthood. She keeps a picture of her father by her bedside and another on her desk. At one point, Tom says to her, "I think you're beautiful." Her answer is, "Thank you. I think you are too. Almost as beautiful as my father."
Mike Wayne (actor Kirk Douglas) is an overindulgent father. His character could have been complicated and interesting. Not here. Kirk Douglas's performance on screen is cringe-worthy. Deborah Raffin as his daughter January was boring. I don't know what's worse, icky or blah.
This was a bad movie until about an hour in when the character Tom Colt shows up. David Janssen is so good as Tom Colt that it's like he's acting in a different movie. He elevates this awful movie. I also enjoyed Brenda Vaccaro as Linda Riggs, January's best friend. She must have had a ball with that character – she plays it so enthusiastically and with such confidence. In comparison, Deborah Raffin as January Wayne was practically lifeless. It's just a bland, unintelligent performance, and she's the center of the movie, so she needed to be more interesting. She also had some awful lines and Raffin wasn't talented enough to make more of those lines. And she showed no emotion in her reactions to events. I neither liked nor disliked her. I felt nothing for her. So I couldn't feel sorry for her at the end.
Tom Colt turns out to be the most interesting character. He's earthy and macho. David Janssen gives this movie depth and the beautiful and funny Brenda Vaccaro gives it lightness. Both characters know who they are and are honest. And I cared about them. Everyone else either sleepwalks through this slow-moving movie or weighs it down with melodrama.
It's sad that 30 years after Casablanca (1942), the screenwriter of that classic film was asked to work on this. I don't think he was the right man for the job.
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