Search This Blog

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Johnny Belinda (1948)

On a small island off the coast of Canada, a young doctor (Lew Ayres) befriends a deaf mute girl (Jane Wyman). He teaches her sign language as well as reading and writing. But when the girl is raped by a drunken villager (Stephen McNally) and bears his child, gossip and lies begin to destroy lives. Based on the 1940 play by Elmer Blaney Harris, this was provocative adult entertainment for its day. Indeed, the rape sequence remains as singularly unpleasant today as it was in 1948. The only sour note is the seeming indifference, particularly by Ayres' character, to hold the rapist accountable for his actions and bring him to justice. Jane Wyman's performance earned her a best actress Oscar and she's terrific here, never overplaying the "deaf and dumb" but underplaying it quietly and organically. Max Steiner restrains himself and delivers one of his better scores. The bulk of the credit should go to the director Jean Negulesco who brings an assured touch that keeps the movie from falling into bathos. With Charles Bickford, Jan Sterling, Agnes Moorehead and Dan Seymour. 

No comments:

Post a Comment