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Monday, November 18, 2013

Mr. North (1988)

In 1926 Newport, Rhode Island, a young man (Anthony Edwards) is hired to read the Bible to an ailing millionaire (Robert Mitchum) by his eccentric daughter (Tammy Grimes). But when the young man's ability to "shock" people by his touch due to the static electricity his body harnesses, rumors begin that he is able to heal by touch. Loosely based on the novel THEOPHILUS NORTH by Thornton Wilder (OUR TOWN), this should have been a whimsical fable but under Danny Huston's direction, it's like a souffle that keeps trying to rise and not succeeding. The character of Theophilus North should be charismatic enough to draw people toward him and Anthony Edwards exhibits no charm at all. In fact, he's the least interesting character in the film which is disastrous when the film is about him. The supporting characters are much more interesting. Robert Mitchum (in a role intended for John Huston till illness forced him to drop out) looks far too robust for a man in failing health but his presence is sorely needed in a movie like this. The delicate score is by David McHugh. The large cast includes Anjelica Huston, Lauren Bacall, Harry Dean Stanton, Mary Stuart Masterson, David Warner, Virginia Madsen, Katharine Houghton (GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DINNER?), Mark Metcalf and Christopher Durang.

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