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Saturday, November 26, 2011

Summer Storm (1944)

Set in 1912 pre-revolutionary Russia, a calculating vixen (Linda Darnell) uses several men in her climb from a drunken peasant's (Sig Ruman) barefoot daughter to becoming the bride to be of a nobleman (Edward Everett Horton). Based on the playwright Anton Chekhov's only novel THE SHOOTING PARTY, the director Douglas Sirk (this was only his second American film) does a credible job of creating a Russian like atmosphere if not quite Chekhovian and though the cast is a mixed blessing, he manages to get solid performances from his cast. Darnell as the wicked seductress is perfect and one can readily believe it when all the males become obsessed with her. Though he was actually born in Russia, George Sanders seems ill at ease as the magistrate whose life is ruined by Darnell. Obsession doesn't sit easily on Sanders' shoulders and the part would have been better served by smarter casting. Horton brings some comedic touches that I'm not sure were intended but Hugo Haas is convincing as Darnell's ill used, lovelorn husband. The Oscar nominated score is by Karl Hajos. With Anna Lee, John Abbott, Elizabeth Russell (CAT PEOPLE) and Laurie Lane, quite good as the simple minded servant girl.

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