It's Day 2 of Girl Week 2016! Back on Sunday, I mentioned I would have some help this week. That help comes in the form of super reader Joel. As always, I'm glad to allow him to use this space to further our collective movie knowledge. Today, he brings us a film that focuses on not just one, but three ladies. I'll let him take it from here.
Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz.
1949. Not Rated, 103 minutes.
A story of the friendship of three women and the unexpected conflict that enters their lives and marriages one Saturday. Overseeing a children’s island excursion friends Lora Mae (Linda Darnell), Rita (Ann Sothern) and Deborah (Jeanne Crain) await a fourth member of their circle, Addie Ross who is supposed to come along. She doesn’t show up but just as the boat is departing a letter arrives addressed to all three in which Addie informs them that she has left town…and oh by the way has taken one of their husbands with her but doesn’t say which one. Trapped for the day away from all communication the three reflect on their marriages and we see why they each might have reason to worry.
Has unsophisticated Deborah’s blueblood husband Brad (Jeffrey Lynn) tired of her and been swept away by Addie’s worldly charm? Could successful radio writer Rita’s schoolteacher husband George (Kirk Douglas) become feed up with the demands of her career and the feeling of being emasculated? Did wealthy Porter (Paul Douglas) finally have enough of his contentious relationship with the wisecracking wrong side of the tracks Lora Mae who he’s sure married him only for his money?
Winner of best director and screenplay Oscars, both for Joseph L. Mankiewicz, the dialogue is witty and sharp, the situations wonderfully true and the performances by almost all exceptional. Modern technology has made the basic premise of three woman isolated from communicating with their husbands for a day pretty much obsolete but that just makes this all the more enjoyable.
All three segments are good but the second two are the strongest. The Sothern/Douglas vignette looks at the struggles between education versus crass commercialism, sadly contemporary even if now it is TV and the internet that is dumbing down the nation instead of radio as presented here. The last though is the real gold. Linda Darnell, giving a nomination worthy performance, and Paul Douglas share a cynical outlook and delivery which puts bite into every word and while it is mostly employed to comic effect beneath their hesitant defensive dance is an obvious feeling which each is too afraid to show. The supporting cast is small but each adds a special touch to the film. Perhaps most important to the success of the picture is the unseen Celeste Holm a perfect choice for the narrator, her silky, venomous delivery tells you all you need to know of the mantrap Addie Ross. A great film superbly structured like a jigsaw puzzle that never lets interest in the characters lag for a minute.
Thanks to all of yesterday's contributors. Click below to read their posts.