film 2 of 3


Draft Review by Dean Duncan Jun 17, 2015

The winter location work is very impressive, convincingly suggesting a small town and winter, and making it beautiful, the technicolor is full of strange, arty silhouettes, the story is a charming trifle which sometimes makes you aware of its status as Hollywood product (one is hard pressed in buying the much admired French teacher, some scenes and settings feel a bit generic), and sometimes reminds you that Henry King directed; the libidinous teenagers next door who keep having dancing fits are not so strong, and the girl’s underperformed songs keep making this into a Brechtianly distancing modernist musical, but the idea of them is great, and the movie’s likeableness allows us to provide a little audience grace and give them what they lack, the gawky poet boyfriend is fun, the skating party set piece is nicely put together, the strong-willed but uncritical-of-absent-Dad Grandma is a nice, intriguing presence, and two three part jokes–bloomers (opening scene, skating, closing dance) and getting the marines out of Nicaragua (debate, Dad bawls out unwittingly imperialistic salesman, and the great movie closing topper about Grandpa being appointed ambassador)–are set up and executed beautifully, with theme, variation, then restatement in a different key reminding how much admirable craft can go into a modest product like this; modest, that is, unless the Nicaragua stuff is a post-war plea for a new kind of isolationism, which means staying out of where you don’t belong, probably not, but something must have been in the air