7 January 2009 | blanche-2
A Boston patriarch in 1912 finds times they are a-changin'
Ronald Colman is "The Late George Apley" in this 1947 film based on a Philip Barry play, also starring Richard Ney, Peggy Cummins, Edna Best, Richard Haydn, Vanessa Brown, and Mildred Natwick. Apley is a stuffed shirt whose well-ordered family is suddenly not so well-ordered. His son (Richard Ney) is dating a girl from Worcester, which is seen by Apley as being someplace like the Black Hole of Calcutta, and his daughter (Cummins) loves a Yale man who lectures that Emerson was a radical. At first, George takes a firm stand, then relents at the behest of his understanding friend, who saw George give up the woman he loved 30 years earlier. When the Worcester girl's father actually rejects the Apley family, George rethinks his position. His daughter is sent to Europe to get away from her boyfriend, and his son is betrothed to his cousin (Brown).
Imagine going to Broadway shows in the '20s and '30s and attending one class-conscious play after another. Before the Depression, the sets were drawing rooms, the clothing was formal, everyone had British accents, and the plots had to do with the crossing of the classes. Frankly, I'm glad they finally intermingled.
Ronald Colman is marvelous as George, and one sees his confusion, pain, and remembrance of the past on his face. He's a very sympathetic character. Peggy Cummins is very pretty and Richard Ney is nice-looking. Vanessa Brown, as the dowdy cousin, gives a sweet performance, and her story arc is very satisfying.
If you're a fan of Ronald Colman, as I am, this is a good movie to see. Also, if you know Boston at all, you'll find hearing the street names interesting. Otherwise, it's a mildly interesting period piece that most people will find relating to difficult.