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Friday, November 26, 2010

THE HASTY HEART (1949)


This orgy of manly sentiment wheezes noticeably, and Vincent Sherman’s stagebound megging only makes things worse by letting his British supporting cast play to the rafters. Yet somehow, in the leading role of a doomed Scottish soldier, Richard Todd pulls a living, breathing character out of a collection of ethnic cliches. It’s 1945 and the war has just ended. But for a small group of recovering soldiers too ill to go home, life dribbles on at a nearly deserted hospital in Burma. Patricia Neal, very simpatico in an early role, is the nurse who gets everyone to play nice with the stricken Scots boy who has just moved in, unaware of his terminal condition. And though he’s too proud to bend at first, he soon warms up. That is, until he finds out that he’s dying. The whole treacly thing is more of a set up than a storyline or character study, and it’s a near thing whether our Scotsman or the childlike African soldier in his ward will wind up more condescended to. Either way, you might not make it thru a second act largely concerned with finding out what a Scotsman wears under his kilt. Oy, Laddie! But Todd plays fair, never winking at us when his character acts like a prick, and bringing a bit of stoic wonderment when his true condition is revealed to him. Too bad that ‘The Yank,’ top-billed Ronald Reagan, is so over-parted as Todd’s new best pal. The glistening shine of his youthful supporting days has turned sour, without his developing the acting chops to compensate. He's obviously on his way out @ Warners, and he looks like he knows it. BEDTIME FOR BONZO/’51 was just around the corner.

CONTEST: Check out the Joe Doakes comedy short "So You Want To Be In Pictures’ on the DVD Extras. Find what connects this to the Judy Garland/James Mason A STAR IS BORN/’54 (a gag & a performer) to win our usual prize, a MAKSQUIBS WriteUp of the NetFlix DVD of your choice.

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