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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tender Is The Night (1962)

A psychiatrist (Jason Robards) in a Swiss clinic on the verge of a brilliant career falls in love with one of his patients, an heiress (Jennifer Jones) with schizophrenic tendencies. Against his better judgement, he marries her and it proves his undoing. Directed by Henry King and based on the celebrated novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, the film only glosses over the complexities and layers of Fitzgerald's work. Actually, if there had been no Fitzgerald's TENDER IS THE NIGHT, the film might have been more impressive. To the film's credit, it doesn't shy away from the incest theme which may have seemed too provocative for 1962 audiences. Indeed, the film is quite frank including a sequence of a father taking his gay son to Robards' psychiatrist to be "cured" of his homosexuality. The fragile Nicole seems like the role Jennifer Jones was born to play, so it's a pity that it happened about 15 years too late. Jones looks smashing in her 1920s garb and bobbed hair but she's clearly a matron and not the girl of the Fitzgerald novel. Jason Robards still seems uncomfortable in front of the camera (this was only his third film). The glamorous European locations (the French Riviera, Switzerland, Rome) provide some eye candy. With Joan Fontaine (in the film's best performance) as Jones's shallow jet setting sister, Tom Ewell (in the film's worst performance), Jill St. John, Cesare Danova, Paul Lukas, Carole Mathews, Alan Napier and the famed acting teacher Stanford Meisner as Robards' mercenary peer. The music is by Bernard Herrmann and the beautiful gowns by Pierre Balmain.

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