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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Keeper Of The Flame (1942)

After a great patriotic American leader is killed in an accident, a journalist (Spencer Tracy) attempts to get the great man's widow (Katharine Hepburn) to assist him in writing a complete and authoritative biography of her husband. She cooperates with him but he slowly becomes suspicious about the facts surrounding his death but also of the man himself. The film has a fascinating premise that propels the first portion of the film forward before it collapses on itself in the second half. In the 1940s, with very few exceptions, Hollywood wasn't very good with overtly political films and the hysterical revelations and its playing out are borderline silly. Tracy's underplaying is pretty good while poor Hepburn is stuck with all the "Acting" which turns her complex character into a mess. With a decent rewrite (the film's script is by Donald Ogden Stewart from the novel by Ida Wylie), this is one film that could be remade into a superior film. Hedda Hopper called the film, "CITIZEN KANE without the Art" and one can't disagree with her. Directed by George Cukor who couldn't lick the script's major problems. With Margaret Wycherly, Stephen McNally, Richard Whorf, Forrest Tucker, Audrey Christie, Howard Da Silva, Donald Meek, Percy Kilbride and Darryl Hickman in one of those dreadful professional Hollywood child actor performances.

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