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Friday, August 9, 2013

The Story Of Esther Costello (1957)

When a wealthy American (Joan Crawford) visits a small Irish village, the local priest (Denis O'Dea) introduces her to a blind and mute teen-aged girl (Heather Sears) living in dire poverty. The woman takes the girl under her wing and educates the girl and after their story is published in the newspapers, she starts a fund to help other blind persons. But when her estranged husband (Rossano Brazzi) enters the picture, the charity grows until it becomes a money making and exploitation machine. Based on the novel by Nicholas Monsarrat (which is much harsher than the film), the film is a decent effort that balances melodrama with the "message" film but it's no IMITATION OF LIFE in that department. In one of her best later film performances, Crawford is remarkably restrained (for her) and shows how effective she could be using the less is more approach. But the film belongs to young Sears (who won a BAFTA best actress award for her work here) giving a delicate and nuanced performance. A good portion of the film takes place in America but the film was shot in Britain and utilizes English actors playing Americans without much conviction. Directed by David Miller (LONELY ARE THE BRAVE). With Lee Patterson, Ron Randell, Fay Compton, John Loder and Bessie Love.

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