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Sunday, May 25, 2008

THE MATCHMAKER (1958)

Like Morton Da Costa & Joshua Logan, Joseph Anthony was a B’way director who helmed a few prestige pics in high theatrical style during the 1950s widescreen Hollywood shake-up, but never got comfortable in the medium. His best was this adaptation of Thorton Wilder ’s utterly lovely, touching, funny, and wise play. Ruth Gordon ’s legendary stage perf weighs heavily on Shirley Booth, but enough comes across to make it play while Anthony Perkins, Shirley MacLaine & Robert Morse are pitch perfect. Nicely gauged production values (its gargantuan musical heir HELLO, DOLLY! might have worked on these human-scaled sets), but the odd editing and bumpy transitions between scenes keeps stopping proper narrative momentum.

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