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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Invitation (1952)

A young and very happily married wife (Dorothy McGuire), who is suffering from a bad heart, doesn't know how critically ill she is. As her marriage reaches its near one year mark, she discovers that her father (Louis Calhern) "bought" her a husband (Van Johnson) and now she must face, not only her mortality, but the possible fraud of her marriage. This MGM melodrama, directed by Gottfried Reinhardt (TOWN WITHOUT PITY), is a nice example of its genre. But it lacks the texture and layers that a Sirk or Minnelli or Ray would have brought to such material. It's the kind of weepie that pulls you in but so disposable that a few weeks later you have a hard time remembering the details. It provides the wonderful Dorothy McGuire with a rare meaty leading role which she handles nicely and with restraint. But it's Ruth Roman as Johnson's bitchy ex-girlfriend who steals what acting honors the film has. The lovely score is by Bronislau Kaper and its main theme became a popular standard. With Michael Chekhov, Ray Collins, Barbara Ruick and Barbara Billingsley.

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