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Thursday, May 22, 2008


Megger Jean Negulesco’s rep petered out with his late pics (though his early Fox/CinemaScope work has a cult following), but his best work came making B+ features at Warners in the ‘40s. This pleasingly sober tearjerker, which made Jane Wyman a big star after years of ‘gal-pal’ supporting work, by all rights should have dated horribly. Its basic format (handicapped victim triumphs over small minds with the help of a sympathetic mentor) has been used as template for decades. Yet, the decency of the material and Negulesco ’s striking conjoining of environment, work & landscape (thank you lensman Ted McCord) with action & character keep the film unusually fresh. A bit too much melodrama threatens Act III, but Lew Ayres, Charles Bickford, Agnes Moorehead & a scary Stephen McNully serve their roles beautifully, while Wyman’s deaf & dumb characterization shows remarkable restraint & subtlety of scale.

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