20 August 2010 | alonzoiii-1
Adoption During the Early Baby Boom Years
Housewife Gene Tierney cannot have a baby, and does not want to wait two years until the adoption agency makes one available to her. Columnist Ray Milland, on the other hand, goes into passive-aggressive mode, when Tierney, acting on a tip from a friend, offers to adopt a baby simply dropped off at the local police station. Will Milland's zealous attempts at finding out the true parentage of the baby cause Faye Bainter's quietly authoritarian adoption agency to determine that Milland and Tierny are unfit to hold little baby Danny CLOSE TO MY HEART?
1951 was one of the peak years of the baby boom, and this movie is a fascinating window into an era in which a woman wanting "a baby for every room" was not thought to be unusual. Tierney, in her single-minded desire to get herself a nice newborn baby right now, without delay, feels more than a little neurotic, to this modern viewer's eyes. Bet she was viewed as just normal, back then. Milland, who seems to have no problem being childless, appears to be the more normal character, even when he gets a little obsessed about finding out where this baby he's adopting actually came from. I think the movie makers were trying to get us to think he was the weird one. Faye Bainter, who plays the caseworker from the adoption agency, does a dead on interpretation of a sweet-seeming, but ultimately rather cold bureaucrat.
The quality of the acting is exemplified towards the end, when Milland comes home to a quietly angry Tierney. The dynamic of a somewhat oblivious husband who suddenly realizes he may have totally destroyed his relationship, and an equally oblivious wife who has manipulated herself into thinking divorce for the first time in her life, is rarely this realistically portrayed.
This is worth seeing, mostly for the acting, and the unusual for the day subject matter. If you want noir or tough guys, though, look elsewhere. This is almost the 50s equivalent of a movie that would play on Lifetime.