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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

ANOTHER TIME, ANOTHER PLACE (1958)

Sandwiched between mega-hits PEYTON PLACE/’57 and IMITATION OF LIFE/’59), this also-ran Lana Turner meller can’t figure itself out. Ludicrously cast as a U.S. war correspondent in WWII London, Turner has the wardrobe, apartment & personal maid to be presentable on any assignment, wrapped in a lush mink coat when not sporting a ‘Raincoat by Aquascutum,’ as per the credits. Comfortably engaged to boss Barry Sullivan back in the States, she’s carrying on a major affair with BBC broadcaster Sean Connery, unaware he’s married with kid. (Unavoidable SPOILERS ahead: Read At Your Own Risk!) So when Sean dies in a plane crash and the war suddenly ends, Lana’s left not just an emotional wreck but in an emotional vacuum. How to get past her funk? Maybe she could visit his hometown?; maybe bond with his kid?; maybe stay as a guest of his wife in his house?; even help her with a book of his collected war broadcasts? A design for cathartic breakthrough, or photogenic breakdown? Remarkably, thanks largely to a wonderful perf from Glynis Johns as the wife, you can swallow quite a lot of this. If only Turner could forego wounded nobility for her character’s self-centered heart of darkness. (Or if the film figured out that Johns, learning of the affair, can finally see her late husband as something other than a plaster saint.) But even as romantic claptrap, neither Lewis Allen’s megging nor Stanley Mann’s script is up to the possibilities.

ATTENTION MUST BE PAID: Connery’s ‘introducing’ credit could just as easily have gone to Master Martin Stephens who plays his little boy. Over the next few years, Stephens was Britain’s go-to acting lad in classics like VILLAGE OF THE DAMNED/’60 and THE INNOCENTS/’61.

SCREWY THOUGHT OF THE DAY: While the original posters have Connery fourth-billed (and in smaller font), this poster moves him ahead of a very generic-looking Lana Turner. Oddly, Connery’s looks don’t ‘pop’ in this film’s monochrome, but would in next year’s TechniColored DARBY O’GILL AND THE LITTLE PEOPLE/’59.

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