3 March 2005 | jotix100
Suburbia circa 1950s
The novel by Sloan Wilson, in which this film is based, offered an innovative view of the life in a small "bedroom community" in the Connecticut of the 50s. Nunnally Johnson, the director, and adapter, tried to bring the essence of the book to a film that would make sense of the text. At times, Mr. Johnson succeeds, but the film he gave us is a bit dated when one looks at it today.
Granted, some things never change, but the conflicts that made the basis for this melodrama, have been dealt with, more effectively in other, more distinguished films.
If you haven't seen the film, perhaps you should stop here.
In the center of the story we are presented with the epitome of decency: Gregory Peck. This great man was an excellent actor, his honesty exudes from every pore of his body. As Tom Rath, the former Captain of WWII, he has kept a secret that comes to haunt him at a crucial point of his life. Tom is ambitious, but he will not play the game until the kind president of the corporation has a heart to heart talk with him, recognizing Tom is a rare commodity in the business world.
The film offers a view of the complexity that is the corporation, as we knew it then. Greed had not taken over business yet. But what comes across clearly is the ambition of the people in the game of climbing the ladder of success.
Tom is happily married to Betsy, who shows signs that maybe she'll become either an alcoholic, or a Stepford wife. Her life goes into a tail spin because of the reality she must face in accepting what Tom has kept hidden inside. Betsy is not an endearing character; she doesn't elicit our sympathy until the end of the film, in which she comes to accept her lot in life. Jennifer Jones' interpretation of Betsy is not as effective in this film, perhaps because of the direction given by Mr. Johnson.
The cast if first rate. Fredric March and Lee J. Cobb, two of the best all time actors of the American stage and screen give life to both of the characters they play. Seen in the pivotal role of Maria, Marisa Pavan, the gorgeous Italian actress makes an impression on us. Keenan Wynn, also, has a small, but important part in the film.
View this movie as a curiosity piece, as it has lost some of the appeal it might have caused when it first came out.