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Monday, November 21, 2011

The Catered Affair (1956)

When the daughter (Debbie Reynolds) of a hard working but poor taxi driver (Ernest Borgnine) and his shrewish wife (Bette Davis) announces her impending marriage, what starts out as a small but simple and uncomplicated wedding grows into a monstrous expensive affair. Based on the teleplay by Paddy Chayefsky and adapted for the screen by Gore Vidal (MYRA BRECKINRIDGE) and sensitively directed by Richard Brooks. This is a modest "kitchen sink" drama that still resonates, certainly in the present economy. The film respects its lower income protagonists and doesn't condescend to them as too many pretentious films about the "common man" do. The role of the frumpy Bronx housewife would seem to be unlikely casting for the dynamic Davis but she reins herself in and has some beautifully affecting moments. Borgnine is quite good, especially in his big scene toward the end of the film and Reynolds is excellent, losing the MGM ingenue and fully inhabiting the sensitive Bronx bride. A lovely, little gem of a movie. The moving score is by Andre Previn. With Barry Fitzgerald, Rod Taylor, Dorothy Stickney, Robert F. Simon and Madge Kennedy.

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