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  • Spencer Tracy is a hard-nosed small town judge who meets feisty, attractive young Lana Turner in his courtroom one day and finds himself smitten; they date and he soon proposes, but there's an immediate problem: Lana's from the poor side of town and doesn't have the judge's class (she bowls and plays baseball) while all the judge's high society friends mingle at cocktail parties and gossip on the phone. From the way the film is written and directed, we are to assume Lana is really benefiting from this marriage, but she's never as happy as she was in those early scenes of "poverty" and, worse, she never returns to her roots, just goes around in circles finding the judge's money, power and friends a chore. The script is actually rather condescending in its approach to Turner's character; it has been written by people with money who have no idea what the "poor side of town" even looks like, and the filmmakers can't even grasp the fact that Turner (and maybe even judge Tracy) would be much happier away from all the champagne and telephone gossips and get involved in some low-income fun (like bowling!). Instead of focusing on the class-issue, they throw another man in Lana's path, which is the oldest issue in the book. This movie doesn't have any courage, and only the early courting scenes have spark. Tracy and Turner do all they can, but it's a lost cause.
  • Cass Timberlane is a surprising piece of work coming from the pen of Sinclair Lewis. Lewis's reputation as American novelist comes from such polemical work as It Can't Happen Here, Main Street, and Elmer Gantry. The novel Cass Timberlane plays more like a Ross Hunter type soap opera.

    To be sure there are some of the Sinclair Lewis that we know in the class conscious town where Cass Timberlane is a judge. And I certainly can't comment on the book, possibly it was more polemical and political than what we got in the film.

    Spencer Tracy plays the title role, a judge in an average size midwestern town that has its good and bad, though it seems that how much money you have determines how good you are. Tracy has been a widower for many years and a pretty lonely fellow away from court.

    But one day in court, young Lana Turner pops up as a witness in a negligence case before the judge. She's from the other side of the tracks so to speak. And there's a considerable age difference. Despite that Tracy and Turner fall in love and are married.

    At this point the film becomes a soap opera with weak chinned heel Zachary Scott making a big play for Turner who's not happy with the way Tracy's high toned friends are treating her.

    Tracy's good, he always is and Turner is luminescently beautiful. Scott has the heel role down pat, it's just a carry over from the part he did in Mildred Pierce. Look for a good performance also from Albert Dekker the corrupt leading citizen in the town.

    This is a film that should have waited a decade and have Ross Hunter produce it.
  • "Cass Timberlane" is a film about unexpected love and the choices you have to make when you're in love. Directed by George Sidney and starring Spencer Tracy as Cass, a judge in small-town Minnesota who is part of the middle-aged country club set. He's generally living a comfortable and content existence when he meets Virginia (Lana Turner), a woman who is at first a witness for a small claims case and later runs into. They strike up a friendship and then a romance, culminating in their marriage. When their child dies while being born, Virginia finds herself more and more restless and spending more time with Cass' best friend, the younger and handsome attorney Bradd (Zachary Scott). The country club set sees them getting closer, and collectively send Bradd to New York under the guise that he is being transferred for his job, just as Cass is starting to wonder if something is up between Bradd and Virginia. Virginia convinces him that there is nothing going on, and eventually Cass offers to move them to New York so she isn't so bored. Cass is then forced to choose between the love he has for his town and his job, and his love for his wife and her needs.

    Spencer Tracy is excellent in this film, as he is in all of his films, and Lana Turner is also quite good. The scenes between she and Zachary Scott have enough heat in them to make us wonder if they are guilty of adultery as well. The story is a pretty straightforward drama, nothing special, but it is a good script and offers up enough conflict to satisfy without resorting to overload and ridiculous emotion. This is an average film that was well worth looking up. 6/10 --Shelly
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Spencer Tracy is one of my two favorite film actors (the other being Cary Grant). That doesn't mean that I like every Tracy film ("Tortilla Flat" and "Woman Of The Year" being two good examples of Tracy films I didn't particularly like). But I do like two films which were fairly close together time-wise -- "Sea Of Grass" and this film, the former coming just before the latter. In "Sea Of Grass" we were introduced to the new "mature" Tracy, and that is reinforced in the opening courtroom scenes of this film. Clearly, perhaps because of his drinking, Tracy was aging quickly at this point in time. This is a Tracy that I really liked. The several opening scenes, including in his chambers (he's a judge in this film), were very pleasant, and got the film off to a good start.

    Lana Turner was at her peak of beauty around this time, and a much more assured actress than she had been 6 years earlier when she last co-starred with Tracy in "Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde". She seems very natural in this part, in both the good times and the bad. I usually enjoy Turner, although I remember seeing her on an interview show in her later years and being disappointed to find that she didn't seem very bright. The scenes between Tracy and Turner are excellent, with the exception of the death scene (after which she doesn't die) and the reconciliation, both of which are not done very well.

    It is said that Zachary Scott enjoyed playing scoundrels, the most notorious of which was the "cradle-robber" in "Mildred Pierce". I guess because of his penchant for playing such roles, I never really cared much for him...so much for type-casting. But, in "Pierce" and this film, I have to admit he was excellent.

    This film also contains one of my favorite scenes, though very brief, and it isn't even involving one of the stars. Josephine Hutchinson, wife of the doctor in this film, breaks down about the truth of her marriage toward the end of the film and throws a glass of champagne in her husband's face. Not sure why, but this is a scene that stuns me every time I see it.

    There are a number of other very recognizable support players in the film. If you're not paying attention, you might not recognize Mary Astor, who gets little screen time. The most interesting support player was Selena Royale, with whom Tracy had been a frequent costar in his early days in the theatre, and may have had an affair with. There's also a cameo with Walter Pidgeon and excellent cinematography.

    I know that the ratings here on IMDb are not high for this film, but I find it very watchable, and I'm glad to have it on my DVD shelf.
  • I seem to be a dissenting voice, looking at the other comments on this film. I didn't find it tedious at all. It is a warm, leisurely paced story. Spencer Tracy turns in a sterling performance as a judge who holds firm to old-fashioned values, though his commitment to friendship does blind him to his friends' shortcomings. Lana Turner does OK as a woman from "the wrong side of the tracks" who loves the judge but mistakes his principles for a lack of courage. There are some weak points in the film. Zachary Scott is not convincing at all as the cad who seduces Jenny away from her husband. There is a slightly cardboard quality of the scenes with the judge's society friends. And the subplot of friends wanting the judge to fix a trial in their favor slides so much into the background that it might as well not be in the film at all. But on the whole, I found this to be one of the better May-December romance films I have seen.
  • jhkp3 September 2011
    It's been many years since I read the Sinclair Lewis novel. I could be wrong, but I seem to remember some interesting observations about a middle-aged, upper-middle class man, confronting a woman of a younger generation and a different social and economic class, in the 1940's.

    In that rapidly changing world, she's more liberated, more independent than the girls he grew up with. There's a generation gap between men of Cass's era and young women like Jinny, in the postwar world. It's a reflection of the way the country had changed, over the course of a few decades.

    Obviously, if they had gotten any of this into the film, it would have been far more interesting than the soap opera that emerged. Jinny just seems to be bored and restless because she's immature and shallow, and Cass just seems to lack understanding of her predicament because he's older and set in his ways.

    Still, Cass Timberlane, as one of MGM's superior factory products, can almost be enjoyed for the production values alone: gorgeous black and white cinematography, stunning women's costumes, detailed sets, nice use of locations, expert use of rear projection (lush, atmospheric shots of Scott and Turner on a NYC penthouse terrace), etc. As good a film as money can buy. And as good a cast.

    Was Lana Turner a good actress? I don't know - but I like watching her. Not just because she's pretty (and here, she's very pretty) - she's also extremely charming - especially in the early scenes - and there really is a good deal of chemistry between her and Spencer Tracy. (Jennifer Jones, first choice for the part, turned it down).

    Tracy is of course, excellent. And immensely likable. The romance between them is always believable, because he is such a charismatic, charming, somewhat devilish, interesting, intelligent, and apparently loving person, how could she not love him? And she is so beautiful, delightful, and seemingly sensible, how could he not fall head over heels for her? Both seem like down-to-earth people, so it's not hard to understand how they relate to one another. And also why they clash.

    George Sidney - who usually directed fluff like "Holiday In Mexico", and "Anchors Aweigh", tries his hand at something serious, here, and while I don't know why he got this big project that probably should have gone to Clarence Brown, or Cukor, he does a pretty good job. Just scratches the dramatic surface, though, unfortunately. He does better in the first hour, which, as usual, is the lighter half.

    Later on, it just reads like magazine fiction.
  • To enjoy this film, you really have to suspend disbelief. I can often times do this, but if you just can't believe in the possibility of pairing an ordinary-looking middle-aged guy (Tracy) with an extremely sexy young woman (Turner), then you should probably just skip the film. In fact, the people around this strange pairing also have trouble accepting this marriage. My problem wasn't just the age differences, but the personality differences--I just couldn't understand why she was attracted to him (I have my suspicions why HE would be interested). The story itself apart from that is good and I like that Zachary Scott is there for support--he is great in his caddish roles. Not a bad but not an exceptional film--but sure to please fans of Tracy.
  • The combination of Lana Turner and Spencer Tracy is an interesting one in "Cass Timberlane," a 1947 film based on a novel by Sinclair Lewis. I have a sneaking suspicion the emphasis in the book was a bit different, but maybe I'm wrong.

    This story concerns a judge (Tracy) who falls for the beautiful witness (Turner) in an accident case and ends up marrying her. She's from the wrong part of town. The two are in love, but she doesn't like the town they're living in and wants something more exciting. The judge seems wedded to his good old boys network; what he doesn't know is that his friendship is being used to help his friends cover up illegalities in wartime contracts their company received.

    The story is fairly predictable. One of the reviewers here didn't understand the attraction Tracy had for Turner. Well, she says right up front that he reminds her of her father. I think he represented security and real love to her. Turner and Tracy are likable, and the acting is uniformly good. Zachary Scott is on hand as a crooked lawyer who falls for Turner. Albert Dekker and Mary Astor have supporting roles.

    This might have been a stronger film with the emphasis elsewhere, possibly on the subplot of the Wargate company. As it is, it's a little too formula.
  • k_jasmine_9915 December 2000
    As much as I love Spencer Tracy, there wasn't much he could do with this boring, predictable, overly preachy script. Not to mention how ironic it is to hear him expound the virtues of fidelity when he had numerous affairs, the most famous being Katharine Hepburn, while still married.

    Lana Turner is lovely, but I just couldn't get into the story line. I think it started out as a good idea: Cass Timberlane (Tracy) marries a younger woman (Turner) from the supposed "wrong side of the tracks", much to the chagrin of his snobby friends. Can they make the relationship work or not? If they would have developed the story more, and preached less, I think it may have worked. Instead it is just a two-hour sermon, more or less.

    Well, at least there is a cute kitty included in the picture.
  • Spencer Tracy tries hard to breathe life into this rather dull tale of a middle-aged judge marrying a younger woman. Lana Turner is hopeless as the wife, unable to give the character any of the internal conflicts that are supposed to motivate the action. Zachary Scott is boring as her love interest. An occasional spark comes from the under-utilised but strong supporting cast. Mary Astor is completely wasted - she would have played Lana's role beautifully a few years earlier. There's a couple of great cats in it, and the production design is excellent (Cedric Gibbons was a genius!), but overall this is over-talky tedious stuff.
  • Cass Timberlane (1947)

    ** 1/2 (out of 4)

    Glossy MGM production of a good-hearted judge (Spencer Tracy) who goes against his rich friends by marrying a woman (Lana Turner) from across the tracks. The woman tries her best to fit into the higher class lifestyle but soon she begins to hate the life and sees what she thinks is a new life in another man (Zachary Scott). For the first eighty-minutes of this thing I was really enjoying it as the entire cast and especially the two leads were doing a terrific job and made for some great entertaining. Even though all of this you could tell that the screenplay was offering nothing new and after eighty-minutes of this the final forty just became too much. The final forty-minutes of this thing contains one boring bit of melodrama after another and by the time the film ends you feel as if you've spent three hours with these characters instead of just two. I thought the film started out wonderful as we got some nice bits of comedy with Tracy being introduced to Turner due to a court case where she was a simple witness. This leads to an incredibly charming date sequence as well as a terrific baseball sequence where Tracy fills in as an umpire. The two actors are so incredibly charming together that you can overlook all the issues with the screenplay. Tracy does another great job in a role that he could play in his sleep. The guy has a great heart and does what he believes is right even when those around him begin to doubt his heart. Tracy brings that certain dignity to the role and in the end makes it his own. Even better is Turner who is simply magnificent in the role. In the early scenes with her playing the poor but happy girl she brings so much sunshine to the character where it was easy to believe that Tracy's judge would fall for her. Turner handles the lighthearted material so well but she's even better in the more dramatic stuff including her love for two men. Scott also comes off quite charming but that snake feeling is also there. Tom Drake, Mary Astor, Albert Dekker and Margaret Lindsay are all fine in their supporting roles. You can also look quickly for a cameo by Walter Pidgeon playing himself and Cameron Mitchell has a small role. Sidney's direction is pretty good throughout but even fine direction and great performances can't overcome a screenplay that offers up one predictable move after another. There are several twists and turns to the love triangle but they're all things we've seen countless times before and after a while it just gets downright boring.
  • This story used to appear in "Cosmopolitan" which reveals directly that this is a story for women who like to weep and after the first minutes you know you will have to watch your usual Hollywoodromance. Cass Timberlane is a judge in some small village who is part of the high society and his reputation of the bachelor that never will marry ends the day Jinn (Lana Turner) comes in his court. Soon both fall in love but Jinn is from the poor side of town and knows nothing about "society life" and just cares about playing baseball and going out... You got it, this looks pretty much like "Pretty woman" in the fourties. And of course the story has its typical twists (no acception from the high society, a new man coming up in Jinn's life, blah blah...). All by all a watchable movie but how good Spencer Tracy might be in other movies here you just hate him as he plays too much of a fatherrole (a judge seems to have answers to everything) and of course Jinn is nothing but a dumb blonde. Standard romantic that you can watch to fill up some rainy sundayafternoon but that's about it....
  • DKosty12316 December 2014
    Warning: Spoilers
    Spencer Tracy was getting quite old when he made this one. He can still show some power here in his lead role as a stubborn judge with the young girl friend. He does a good job with a challenging script.

    Lana Turner as the love interest is very effective here. Considering the film's script, she does well too.

    There are sparks in the cast besides. I think in this case Tracy deserved better script. That seemed to hurt him in his last films. Are there better Tracy films? Yes, but this one is pretty good.

    Judge Timberlane may not chop down trees but he does Dispense Jusice with authority from the bench.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Spencer Tracy is judge Cass Timberlane, in this film adaptation of the Sinclair Lewis novel. He has carved out a nice little niche for himself and settled into a nice community with a steady girl, played by Margaret Lindsay and has some high society friends. But perhaps he has gotten too used to his surroundings. Maybe he isn't as happy as he thinks (he is.) His cases have gotten a little monotonous, when a witness to an elderly lady falling on a city sidewalk is artist/designer Lana Turner, who lives outside of his social circle. She piques his interest with her looks, her youthful perspective on life, and her pictures of him. They form a friendship that leads to marriage, surprising his society friends who were expecting him to marry Chris (Margaret.) Attorney and friend Zachary Scott takes an instant liking to her as well. When she grows tired of trying to fit in and exasperated with her situation, arguing about it with Spencer, she winds up going to New York with Zachary. I don't how faithful this is to the book, but this is an example of how Hollywood would write themselves into a corner or a bad situation and then slap a pat or forced happy ending on it. People argue, can't get along and want their way until the final reel, where they say "we're so happy, let's live happily ever after." The viewers have to be placed in their situation and allowed for the natural feelings to be evolved and addressed for some final good closure. We do have this to a point, but just the same the scene with Lillian (Josephine Hutchinson) talking to Lana and the scene of Spencer and Lana's final confrontation feels a little bit like an afterthought. Being a Lana Turner fan, I may be kinder to this than a lot of others; I have always liked this film on the whole, but also felt the pat ending was a major flaw. Granted, we want them to be together but it somehow rings a little false.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    The opening sequence of Spencer Tracy as a small-town judge denying a divorce to a couple who obviously can't stand each other seems straight out of an "Andy Hardy" film where Lewis Stone did practically the same thing. But unlike that MGM series of sometimes manipulative morality tales, this MGM drama (based upon a Sinclair Lewis novel) uses this opening as a point. This sets up Cass as a truly moral man who hasn't yet married and finds love with a working class girl (Lana Turner) from the opposite side of the tracks. This upsets the apple cart of his high society friends who find his fiancée to be beneath him. The age difference between Tracy and Turner doesn't matter to them, but her lack of supposed breeding does. They pretend to accept her, but go out of their way to sabotage Turner in society every chance they get. His male friends use their friendship with him to try and get away with shady business dealings, and as the marriage builds, it also crumbles as Turner finds it hard to deal with the small-town pettiness.

    A glossy women's drama with interest for the men (because of the business angle), this isn't a perfect movie by any means but one that lingers in the memory because of Tracy's nuanced performance. Every detail of his character is developed believably, from his allergy to a kitten to his dealings with people who approach his bench, the hypocrites of his society (lead by the imperious Mary Astor) and his tenderness to Turner in spite of everything. John Hodiak is the cad who almost breaks up the happy home while claiming to be Tracy's best friend, and Astor's society pals include Josephine Hutchinson as the wife of one of the rotten to the core businessmen using Tracy and Margaret Lindsay as the woman they prefer to see Tracy with.

    This is also memorable for a scene where Tracy, just taking his evening walk, comes across Turner playing baseball on the other side of the tracks and steps in as umpire. That scene alone says more about his noble character than the screenplays of a dozen MGM potpoilers.
  • Cass Timberlane is one of the only movies in which I don't detest Spencer Tracy. In fact, I actually like him in this film. He's a respectable judge who falls in love with the beautiful yet low-class Lana Turner. In a particularly touching scene, Lana miscarries their child, and Spence is tasked with telling her. He holds her hand and speaks tenderly, an emotion he rarely showed in his performances.

    As you might expect, since Spence is older, cultured, and moral, and his bride is not, they have marital problems. Spence is frequently embarrassed by Lana's ignorance and free-spiritedness, and Lana is often bored by his stodginess. Before long, a younger man, Zachary Scott, catches her eye. But, in order to find out how this well-done drama turns out, you'll have to rent it. And since it's one of the only Spencer Tracy movies I like, I recommend that you do.
  • ksf-29 November 2018
    Story opens on a court trial, with Spencer Tracy as the Judge, presiding. Some other big names in here... Zachary Scott (from Mildred Pierce), Lana Turner, and the (now blonde) Mary Astor. At one point, the judge umpires a game in which Virginia (Turner) pitches, but he's standing BEHIND the pitcher, which they actually did for many years. So the Judge and Virginia start dating, and get hitched. But.. .she gets bored. Kind of like in Postman Always Rings Twice. Blonde beauty is married to older man, and gets bored. by Sinclair Lewis. and she made this one just a year AFTER Postman. Also the recurring theme of the cat; they keep showing up in court and at the Judge's home, and he is determined to get rid of them.Mildly entertaining, but no big deal. Z. Scott had a pretty interesting story in his personal life... his first wife left him for Steinbeck. He later hit his head on a rock (rafting accident...), which may have led to the brain tumor, from which he croaked at age 51. and one of the earliest actors to wear an ear-ring in one ear. Directed by George Sidney, who had made so many big, giant, magnificent musical shows.
  • Ginny Marshland (Lana Turner) testifies in front of Judge Cass Timberlane (Spencer Tracy). Despite a twenty years difference and a cat allergy, they fall in love and the rich conservative judge marries the tomboy working class girl. They drift apart and she finds herself connecting more with his friend Bradd Criley.

    The basic problem is that I don't buy their chemistry. The twenty years difference is a problem although it's less so back in the day. Mostly, I don't buy Lana Turner. She's young and playing baseball by the rail tracks. She doesn't look like it. Her hair is always curled up and done. She doesn't fit her character. I don't buy their courtship. This feels like a realistic take on a romance novel. I just don't see the chemistry despite the top notch actors. Without chemistry, it's a slow grind.
  • nelsonhodgie15 August 2020
    Why would the beautiful sexy Lana Turner have any interest in a stodgy old judge who could be her father. Alright maybe the money. But you get the sense that she's not a gold digger. There's no chemistry between the two leads how could there be? The ending is ridiculous and what kind of name is Cass Timberlane anyway?