13 December 2004 | jaykay-10
Light as a feather
The picture is consistently out-of-joint as a result of the filmmakers' decision to deal with some rather substantial issues (marriage, poverty, ambition) as themes appropriate for a lighthearted, quasi-comic treatment. Smiling and accepting throughout, the characters suffer no more than mildly bruised feelings before turning their thoughts toward supposedly better days ahead. Seemingly, just about any setback can be overcome by optimism, however groundless, and an acceptance of whatever it is that life holds. That such naive characters would presume to counsel one another verges on the ludicrous. None is a success, all have been manipulated by others and by the vicissitudes of life itself - apparently without having learned a thing from their experiences. The wisest, most thoughtful of them all, played by Claude Rains, has good advice for his family, but has achieved no measure of success. Anne Shirley, sweet and innocent, lacks the wherewithal to come to grips with life. The foremost liability here is the egregious miscasting of John Garfield as a wide-eyed, vacuous sap who, for all intents and purposes, might have been born yesterday. What may have been meant to be a refreshing change from his familiar type of character results in a role which is not beyond him, but beneath him.