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Sunday, December 29, 2013

BUT NOT FOR ME (1959)

Samson Raphaelson’s sturdy & wise little play, ACCENT ON YOUTH (winningly revived on stage with David Hyde Pierce in ‘09), had its third cinematic outing as a late vehicle for Clark Gable . . . sort of. The original serendipitous May/December romance between boss & secretary still runs the plot, but the leading role has now been split in half with Gable playing hard-nosed B’way producer and Lee J. Cobb, in a pleasingly mild turn, as dipsomaniac playwright. More damaging, the wrap-up all but negates Raphaelson’s lovingly finessed ending. But the package, designed specifically for Gable @ 57 (see ad above), works reasonably well on its own terms, with Gable using his personal life as a guide for rewrite before the obvious chemistry between him and Lili Palmer, playing his well-balanced ex, helps carry us thru a few too many plot reversals than any film should try. Vet helmer Walter Lang, on a rare loan-out from 20th/Fox, pulls off some believable B’way atmosphere, but Paramount’s backlot Long Island is strictly from Encino.

DOUBLE-BILL: Kim Novak & Fredric March also played May/December that year in MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT/’59, an unsung reunion for ‘Team MARTY/’55' (Delbert Mann/Paddy Chayefsky) convincingly set about ten blocks south of the Theater District in the NYC rag trade.

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