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Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Story On Page One (1959)

An unhappily married woman (a deglamorized Rita Hayworth) and her lover (Gig Young) are arrested and put on trial for the murder of her husband (Alfred Ryder). The woman's mother (Katherine Squire) hires the lawyer son (Anthony Franciosa) of a former employer to defend her daughter despite his reservations about her innocence. Written and directed by the playwright Clifford Odets (this was his second and last film as a director), this is a compelling if often cumbrous courtroom drama. Hayworth is surprisingly good as is Young but Odets can't resist exaggerating some of the supporting characters or at least encouraging the supporting players to make the most of their screen time. For example, when I saw the name of the great acting teacher Sanford Meisner in the opening credits, I had no idea what he looked like so I was worried I might not know who he played. But when an actor playing the prosecuting attorney started hamming it up big time, I just knew that must be Meisner. It was. If you like courtroom dramas, you should be quite pleased with this effort. A nice Elmer Bernstein score moves things along nicely. With Mildred Dunnock (very good) as Young's manipulative mother, Hugh Griffith, Myrna Fahey, Valerie French, William Challee (another shameless scenery chewer) and Leo Penn (Sean's father).

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