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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Ten North Frederick (1958)

In 1945 at her father's (Gary Cooper) funeral, his daughter (Diane Varsi, PEYTON PLACE) reflects on the events of the last five years of his life and how he went from the potential Lt. Governor of his state to a dying alcoholic. Based on the novel by John O'Hara (BUTTERFIELD 8) which won the 1956 National Book Award, the director and screenwriter Philip Dunne has reduced O'Hara's layered complex novel to a glossy CinemaScope soap. The film is neatly divided into two parts. The first is a rather tawdry melodrama about a politically ambitious wife (Geraldine Fitzgerald) who is determined to push her attorney husband (Cooper) into state office then the White House at all costs including sacrificing her adult children's happiness. The second half is more interesting. A bittersweet but poignant May-December romance between Cooper and a young model (lovely Suzy Parker) that's treated romantically but with eyes wide open. Interestingly, the film is shot in black and white (by Joseph MacDonald, THE SAND PEBBLES) which cuts down on the potential glossiness of the romantic aspects of the story. The nice underscore is by Leigh Harline. With Stuart Whitman, Barbara Nichols, Tom Tully, Ray Stricklyn, Linda Watkins and Jo Morrow.

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