18 August 2009 | moonspinner55
Tolerable, if somewhat obtuse soaper from producer Ross Hunter...
Wealthy, deluded matriarch--who keeps most of her relatives neatly under her thumb--hopes to shower her deceased Air Force pilot son with honors and medals he may not have earned; meanwhile, her widowed daughter-in-law hopes to get vital information from the husband's co-pilot, who survived eleven terrible days lost at sea with the man in question and is now attempting to steer clear of his partner's family. Ross Hunter-produced collection of secrets and soap suds, adapted from Robert Wilder's book "And Ride a Tiger", is well-acted but gets off to a rather stiff and confusing start. The plot does manage to gather some steam at the halfway mark and, though the character-driven action is a bit stagy, the people on-screen are surprisingly complicated. Jeff Chandler always performed most capably in a lower key, but here he gets to be a bit more animated (particularly in his scenes with flirtatious teen Sandra Dee) and it suits him. June Allyson is an odd choice for his romantic interest; initially it appears as though Allyson is phoning her performance in, yet she approaches the role in an unusual way which garners not only interest but sympathy. The most colorful role is held for Mary Astor as the Queen Bee, and she's an intimating force (you can believe that one word from her sends everyone scuttling about doing her bidding). Not a great picture by any means, but a thoughtful, tolerable one, with attractive photography and a pretty (if derivative) score supervised by Joseph Gershenson. **1/2 from ****