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Sunday, July 23, 2017

HILDA CRANE (1956)

Misfiring on all cylinders, you can just make out the tawdry melodrama writer/helmer Philip Dunne must have been aiming at. Without much in the way of style or social commentary, he’s no threat to masters of the form like Douglas Sirk   . . . or even Mark Robson. Jean Simmons is tight, overwrought & unaccountably loud as a divorcĂ©e² who reluctantly goes home to the same insular university town she left years ago, only to find she's pursued by the same two guys she left behind: caddish professor Jean-Pierre Aumont and dull, successful contractor Guy Madison. Can an independent-minded woman find happiness with either type? Dunne probably never should have tried building this on Samson Raphaelson’s flop play, with one controlling bitch mother (Madison's); one chilly, unloving bitch mom (Simmons’); and enough Freudian guilt to warp each one’s only child. There’s little to do but hang around and wait for dramatic inspiration to spark between inadvertent giggles. Then, halfway along, a lethal plot turn kickstarts a series of crises and eventual resolution hardly worth the trouble . . . or inadvertent giggles.

WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: Out the same year, Douglas Sirk’s great WRITTEN ON THE WIND/’56.

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