Flesh and Blood (1951)

Unrated   |    |  Drama


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5 April 2018 | gilbertayres
| An okay film, but only just.
Leonard Maltin gave this ** out of ****. This movie feels at times like two short films, or two parts of a longer series. One is set in the 19th century consisting of two generations of the wealthy Scottish Marshall family whose men are medically inclined and whose women do all sorts of terrible things to their male lovers and visa versa, although thankfully all end up dead by some means (TB, childbirth, poisoning, suicide). The second is a romantic medical drama set before, during, and after the First World War, much of the last twenty minutes set in Italy. The two stories are connected by the character of Dr. William Marshall who ends up as the guardian to all the illegitimate offspring his female family members have only too much time on their hands to produce. Although Richard Todd's brief performance as the lascivious but brilliant and tragically ill Dr. Cameron is a highlight, the first half of the film can be seen as dark, brutal, dull, and very long (51 minutes). Joan Greenwood's performance is probably the biggest draw back here as she seems to be sleeping through most of her screen time and when she does seem alive she drones. I wonder if much of this could be cut. Glynis Johns has second billing but does not appear until an hour into the film. This second half (41 minutes) redeems the film but also seems rushed. Richard Todd is back playing the grandson of the character he played earlier and the characterization is just as good if not better. Oh, and the moustache doesn't hurt! Glynis is rather good as Katherine and a welcomed near comic relief as she goes about drinking, smoking, or war protesting. At first flighty, she matures rapidly and proves herself to be Todd's equal over the course of her half-hour of screen time. The message at the end of the first: Dr. Marshall: "You will make him do great things for the world" Katherine: "If the world is worth it." is both prophetically disturbing and heartwarming at the same time. So overall a good if rushed second act attached to a boring and long set up first act and as usual with their series of films together Todd and Johns are the best part of the film.

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