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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Hilda Crane (1956)

A two time divorcee (Jean Simmons) returns to her small hometown after a failed attempt at a career in New York. At her mother's (Judith Evelyn) urging, she accepts a proposal from a prosperous architect (Guy Madison) even though she doesn't love him. Based on a play by Samson Raphaelson, this is a fairly typical glossy soap opera of the Fox CinemaScope period. Simmons chain smokes, drinks scotch on the rocks, wears a mink and suffers in Charles LeMaire's attractive costumes. All in all, quite daring for its day (the film's trailer asks you to judge Hilda Crane) as Simmons' character is not only twice divorced but lived openly with a man and runs off with her lover (Jean Pierre Aumont) for a hotel shack up. It's not one of Simmons' best performances, she's too superficially overwrought and her two leading men don't seem worth her time. The film doesn't seem to have anything nice to say about motherhood either as Judith Evelyn as Simmons' cold and remote mother and Evelyn Varden as Madison's vindictive and manipulating mother get the blame for their children's messed up lives. There's quite a nice underscore by David Raksin. Directed by Philip Dunne (TEN NORTH FREDERICK). With Peggy Knudsen and Gregg Palmer.

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