22 June 2009 | MartinHafer
Subtle yet entertaining.
This is a different sort of Ronald Colman movie. In an odd move, he plays the central character in the film but is also a very flawed man--not the sort of likable guy you'd expect him to be. This was quite a risk, though with this film and A DOUBLE LIFE (both 1947), Colman took on some darker characters. Now I am not saying that Colman is evil in THE LATE GEORGE APLEY, but he certainly is as far from the guy you'd see him play in THE PRISONER OF ZENDA or LOST HORIZON as you could get!
Colman plays George Apley--the head of a distinguished but way too self-important family of quality in Boston circa 1912. He is the blue-bloodest blue blood in town and a man completely wrapped up in traditions. And, according to traditions, his two grown children should marry within their ranks--and not for love but for family honor. The problem is that the son does not want to marry the cousin who was always designated to be his wife and the daughter is in love with a Yale man (uggh, for shame that he didn't go to Harvard!). So the heart of the story is will Apley get with the times or will he remain stuck and duty-boud forever? Fortunately, his brother-in-law (Percy Waram) was there to gently nudge George in the right direction and although Waram is NOT a well-known actor, his smaller role was probably the most interesting and pivotal in the film. He easily upstaged other supporting actors in the film such as Richard Haydn and Midred Natwick.
The film is funny, but in a very, very subtle way. If you are looking for belly laughs, this is not your film. However, it is a nice film about social satire and it is well made form start to finish as well as very different---something I value considering how many films I have watched over the years. Well worth seeing.