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Friday, November 13, 2009


The pickings are mighty slim in this well-remembered romantic-farce. Barbara Stanwyck stars as a food columnist whose elaborate magazine persona (happy wife, country home, kids) is complete fiction. Hell, she can’t even cook. But when her publisher (Sydney Greenstreet) decides to visit over the Christmas holidays along with a wounded serviceman (Dennis Morgan), she has to whip up a reasonable facsimile of her alter ego. There’s nothing wrong with the basic set up (yet one more Hollywood swipe from the great Hungarian playwright Ferenc Molnar), but the execution wavers between tolerable & tiresome. Worse yet, Babs shows zero rapport with any of her co-stars. But get the DVD for STAR IN THE NIGHT, an early two-reeler from Don Siegel with Hitchcock’s favorite cinematographer, Robert Burks lensing. It’s a cornball modernization of the Christmas eve Nativity story with three not so wise cowboys, a pregnant gal named Maria, no room at the inn . . . the works. The right half of your brain will be appalled, but the left half will note just how beautifully the whole little package hangs together. Damned if you don’t follow the lead of it’s star, J. Carroll Naish, and go from grump to believer as this little fable ends.

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