15 November 2007 | rsoonsa
Although Nothing More Than An Ungainly Melodrama, Some Interesting Performances Shine Through.
Robert Morley (Randolph Scott), a medical intern at a large metropolitan area hospital, becomes emotionally enervated when his wife dies giving birth, and because he had reserved all of his love for her, Morley has no desire to even look upon their newborn son, abandoning him instead into the loving care of an aunt and uncle and moving overseas to Vienna, there to complete his final years of internship. It is apparent that he has energetically addressed his career goals, since within two years of his return to the United States, he has not only graduated from Harvard Medical School but has additionally established a flourishing practice as a pediatrician! (Admittedly more concerned with easing the pain suffered by pregnant women than that of children.) It would seem that Doctor Morley has been quite successful at ridding his consciousness of his forsaken child. This is altered when his aunt (Beryl Mercer) escorts young Billy Morley (Buster Phelps) to his father's office upon the boy's sixth birthday, whereupon Morley is riveted by his son's endearing personality, a circumstance not at all to the liking of beautiful socialite Martha (Martha Sleeper) whom Robert has found time to successfully woo. After the doctor and Martha are wed, his association with his aunt and uncle (Joseph Cawthorn) is bruised when he calls for the return of Billy, who believes that the older folks are his parents, and who is completely content residing with them in an apartment to the rear of their business, a pet store. Following a judgement by a court appointed referee who has no option but to return the youngster to his birth father, a new conflict arises, one between charming Billy and Martha, dissension that indeed imperils the Morley marriage. Director Robert Vignola is alloted a customary low Monogram Pictures production budget, along with a prosaic screenplay, but he has an advantage of able editing from Carl Pierson, while the absence of a musical score actually increases the dramatic effect of the work, while the players for the most part create their roles in effective fashion, given their arid lines. Scott is somewhat wooden here, while vivacious Sleeper wins the acting bays with a nicely defined turn as an elegant woman vying with a situation not at all to her liking, and stage-trained Cawthorn has always a perfect sense for his character's dialogue. Alpha Video does not re-master its DVD reissues of older films, and this is by all odds one of the more vexatious, being awash with skips, jumps, and elisions. Its cast saves a film that is best served by way of a theatre showing.