16 March 2015 | marcslope
A tough one
Caught this tough 1948 drama on TCM, which seems to have been out of circulation for a while. It's about a tough, by-the-book judge (Fredric March) who discovers his wife (Florence Eldridge, March's real-life spouse) has a fatal, painful disease, and rather clumsily plots a mercy killing. This means that for much of the film's length we have to watch Eldridge suffer, suffer, and it's quite uncomfortable viewing. There are plot conveniences that one other poster lists, and also the debatable position posed by the family doctor (Stanley Ridges, also good) that Eldridge should be lied to about her prognosis. Hal Mohr's photography thrusts itself deep into the Marches' anguish, and plot and subplot are contrivedly merged when Edmond O'Brien, as the liberal attorney who's romancing the Marches' daughter (Geraldine Brooks), injects himself into March's murder trial. Then there's some unconvincing, unsolvable philosophizing about euthanasia, and fadeout. I find a number of faults: Daniel Amfitheatrof's hyperactive musical score, which needlessly underlines everything, and was there ever a less appealing juvenile than pudgy, charmless Edmond O'Brien? But the issues are real, the debate is tense, and Mr. and Mrs. March are superb. Now if only TCM would find a way to show their other excellent co-starring vehicle from back then, also Universal and also directed by Michael Gordon, "Another Part of the Forest."