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Sunday, November 30, 2014

FOREVER FEMALE (1953)

B’way set dramedy about a 40-ish actress who finds herself competing against an ambitious young thing in art and in life, on stage and off. ALL ABOUT EVE/’50? Well, yes, but also this depressingly lousy adaptation of ROSALIND, a little known one-act/three-hander by James M. Barrie. Ginger Rogers, in her uncomfortable sophisticated mode, is the threatened star; William Holden is a regular-guy playwright; Paul Douglas (making it nearly watchable) is the producer carrying a torch for ex-wife Ginger; and an absolute horror of adorable moxie called Pat Crowley is the cunning little vixen. (Paramount gave her a special end credit as Star of the Future, but she soon crept back to tv.*) Megged by Woman’s Pic Specialist Irving Rapper; adapted by the reliably funny/clever Epstein twins; with Harry Stradling’s glam lensing, this easily could have been better.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: *An inside gag sticks Crowley in a touring company of THE NIGHT IS BLUE, a reference to THE MOON IS BLUE, filmed the same year, with the same leading man (William Holden) and an equally annoying ingenue in debuting Maggie McNamara. A popular type in '53, this sort of ingenue would soon morph into 'early kook' Shirley MacLaine.

WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: For a great action star, Holden sure did a lot of play adaptations. Early signature roles in GOLDEN BOY/’39 and OUR TOWN/’40; pre-breakthrough leads in DEAR RUTH/’47 and THE DARK PAST/’48; and prime star turns in THE MOON IS BLUE; SABRINA/’54; PICNIC/’55; STALAG 17/’53; THE WORLD OF SUZIE WONG/’60; and a much underrated job in the otherwise overrated THE COUNTRY GIRL/’54.

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