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Sunday, April 17, 2011

All Fall Down (1962)

Set in Florida, a 16 year old boy (Brandon De Wilde) idolizes his older brother (Warren Beatty) who is nihilistic, misogynistic and narcissistic. After being thrown in jail, Beatty returns home to the mother (Angela Lansbury) he hates and romances an older woman (Eva Marie Saint) who his younger brother has a crush on. This will be the turning point in the family's blind adoration of the selfish Beatty. Directed by John Frankenheimer with a screenplay by William Inge (PICNIC) based on a novel by James Leo Herlihy (MIDNIGHT COWBOY), this comes across as faux Tennessee Williams. The characters have names like Echo and Berry-Berry and the film almost becomes a parody in spite of itself when instead of lines like "Have some breakfast" or "Why are you mad?", the characters say "Have some breakfast, Berry-Berry" and "Why are you mad, Berry-Berry?" to the point of exhaustion. The audience knows right off that Beatty's Berry-Berry is a prick and all we have to do is wait until everyone on the screen finds out too. Beatty's acting is truly awful here, surely a career low point as he apes Brando and James Dean. The rest of the cast fares better with Saint, Lansbury and Karl Malden as Beatty's aging socialist father doing fine work but alas, there's not much poor De Wilde can do with his cliched coming of age role. The score by Alex North is gold. With Barbara Baxley and Constance Ford.

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