21 August 2013 | blanche-2
Gary Cooper toward the end of his career
Gary Cooper made six films after "Ten North Frederick" -- and by the last one, "The Naked Edge," he was near death and filming had to be stopped frequently to give him oxygen.
Here, in a film based on a novel by John O'Hara, he plays Joseph Chapin, a lawyer with a son, Joby (Ray Stricklyn), a daughter,Ann (Diane Varsi) and an absolute shrew as a wife, Edith (Geraldine Fitzgerald). He's a gentle man, who has probably kept peace in his life by giving in to his wife.
The film begins with Joe's funeral, with his daughter Ann looking back on the last five years. Her own life has been affected by falling in love with a talented trumpet player (Stuart Whitman) and her ensuing unhappiness, and her brother wanted to study music at Juilliard but is pressured to attend law school. The war intervenes, and at the beginning of the film, he has returned for the funeral.
Edith has political ambitions and pushes Joe into throwing his hat in the ring; he soon finds it's too dirty a game for him and withdraws.
Joe, disillusioned, his beloved daughter having left home, he goes to New York to visit her and meets her gorgeous roommate (Suzy Parker). The two fall in love, despite their age difference.
I have to say, I felt the film was a little on the dull side - the pace was slow, and the acting, despite some of the comments here, I found rather dull. The thing about Gary Cooper is that he underplays and is very subtle - now, there's underplaying and there's just not acting. I have to say I didn't feel Diane Varsi did much acting here. Geraldine Fitzgerald was terrific, as was Ray Stricklyn, who went on to Broadway success and a huge career in publicity with the John Springer organization, handling people like Elizabeth Taylor and Bette Davis. Suzy Parker was always a total vision, but never much of an actress.
The most effective scenes were at the end of the movie, very beautiful and well worth waiting for. Cooper really shone throughout, but especially in the last section. A wonderful presence, and, like many stars of that era, we lost him too soon. It's sad to realize that they're all gone, including Varsi, who died at age 54.
Worth seeing for some of the performances. A little sharper direction would have brought it up a level.