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Thursday, March 24, 2016

MRS. DELAFIELD WANTS TO MARRY (1986)

By the time she made her last few tele-pics, Katharine Hepburn had long given up on acting, or even playing herself. Instead, a sort of Special Guest Appearance version of Kate the Great came to call, even when she had the leading role. It’s particularly so for the wan trio of dramedies written especially to harness what remained of her legend by playwright James Prideaux. And unlike the pair of tv films she’d done with director George Cukor, these three films, all directed by George Schaefer, have the visual texture of movie-of-the-week fodder (like slightly shabby furniture in a once grand house), death for the genial tone of wit & whimsy Prideaux is aiming for. (It works better in the last act where Kate gets to speechify wise & sentimental.) This one, first of the three, is an updated (if that’s the word!) ABIE’S IRISH ROSE fable: senior division, with Hepburn falling for the nice Jewish doctor who saved her life (Harold Gould, excellent) while both families (hers: rich WASP society snobs/his: Jewish intellectual snobs) work to scuttle the budding romance (hers: with prejudice/his: with rudeness). Alas, Prideaux’s stereotypes, on both sides, are a good four decades past their final sell date. A shame, since there’s something to be said for a film that lets seniors show a sexual side of things. (Hepburn hadn’t done this much lip-locking since the ‘fifties!) And the combination of her kids' embarrassment at the physical aspects of the romance, and fear of an upset inheritance, would have made a dandy storyline for Douglas Sirk.*

WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: *It did, it did! See Sirk's ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS/’55.

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