Noted filmmaker George Cukor directed Judy Holiday in a total of four films throughout her all too short career. This was their third effort and was written by Garson Kanin and his wife Ruth Gordon. Kanin was actually the credited screenwriter on the other three titles as well. Adam’s Rib, Born Yesterday and It Should Happen To You. A winning combination to be sure.
Joining Judy in his first major film role is Aldo Ray. We join our two leads in divorce court where they begin to tell us their tale in an amusing flashback style. From meeting each other at the park to the ups and downs of struggling to survive in New York City while raising children the film’s first half maintains a comical beat. With Judy I guess that’s to be expected. Most of the fun here is that their narration of the facts don’t jell with the images we the viewer get to see. Great example of the way we sometimes remember things are not always the way others may see them.
As we approach the films midpoint it’s tone takes a decidedly serious turn through a tragedy that pushes the couple’s marriage to the brink of destruction. From one mishap to another, Ray struggles to find himself while Judy finds re-entering the work force not so easy. The Kanin/Ruth script brings us out of flashback every so often. This allows judge Madge Kennedy to use her experience in such matters. Hopefully she can reconcile the couple by urging them to take just one more attempt at saving their marriage.
This Columbia release was Judy’s follow up to her Oscar winning role in Born Yesterday and allowed her to have some weighty dramatic scenes opposite newcomer Ray. While the scenes are effective and she proves her worth I find myself almost wishing the film had stayed light and save the dramatics for a future role. It’s almost like seeing two films in one. No matter, Judy’s presence is always a major boost to the small amount of films she actually appeared in. It’s hard not to feel cheated we didn’t get more of her unique presence.
Aldo Ray would turn up in Cukor’s next film as well, Pat and Mike before entering into military films and the gruff sergeant type of role he is more or less remembered for. Film fanatic Quentin Tarantino paid his respects to Ray casting Brad Pitt as Lt. Aldo Raine in his WW2 flick Inglourious Basterds. If one looks fast enough you can spot future tough guy Charles Bronson as one of Ray’s coworkers at the local factory. He to would appear in Cukor’s next film in a slightly larger role.I spotted the name Earl Bellamy as assistant director. Sounded familiar so after a quick bit of research it’s no wonder. He’s credited with directing over 1600 episodes of televsion shows! Most surprising scene in the flick for me was to see the usually goofy Mickey Shaughnessy explain to Ray what is important in his life and marriage without his usual bumbling humor.
There are some nice location shots here in New York City that I always seem to freeze frame to see what the billboards are saying behind our leads. Not to mention trying to make out the theater marquees to see what movies are playing. 🙂