Friday, 27 February 2009

The Inn of Sixth Happiness

Movie Review: The Inn of Sixth Happiness

Year of Release: 1958
Country of Origin: USA
Director: Mark Robson
Cast: Ingrid Bergman, Curd Jürgens, Robert Donat

Plot outline: A true story of Gladys Aylward, a tenacious British maid, who became a missionary in China during the tumultuous years leading up to World War II (IMDb).

Ingrid Bergman's capacity to convey a sense of supreme sincerity with little more to work with in the way of a character than a simple and wholesome facade is touchingly demonstrated in this movie. In it, the lovely Bergman, grown a bit matronly and plump, plays an English housemaid who goes to China in the Nineteen Thirties. Through patience, enterprise and sincerity, she is able to win her way into the confidence of the superstitious natives and of the haughty mandarin, who initially puts a variety of sutble obstacles in her way. The script, adapted from the biography of Gladys Aylward entitled "The Small Woman", unfortunately provided no clarification as to what makes the heroine tick. The justification of her achievements is revealed by no other displays than those of Bergman's mellow beauty, friendly manner and melting charm. Her not-so-small woman is most appealing, but she is still just a sturdy facade. Curd Jürgens is remarkedly gracious as the Chinese army officer and Robert Donat is refined and regal as the aged mandarin. Athene Seyler gives a warm and wry performance as the missionary, and Ronald Squire and Moultrie Kelsall are "veddy propah" as old China hands. The settings and outdoor scenery are fine, giving a striking illusion of China, even though filmed in Wales. They provide a real and rugged background for the long trek of the kids, which is the most credible, moving and memorable adventure in the movie. (NYT)

My judgement: **1/2 out of 4 stars

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

The Bridges at Toko-Ri

Movie Review: The Bridges at Toko-Ri

Year of Release: 1954
Country of Origin: USA
Director: Mark Robson
Cast: William Holden, Grace Kelly, Fredric March, Mickey Rooney

Plot outline: Set during the Korean War, a Navy fighter pilot must come to terms with with his own ambivalence towards the war and the fear of having to bomb a set of highly defended bridges (IMDb).

This movie representation of the part of Navy fliers in the Korean war - and especially of one jet pilot who commits himself to his duty gallantly -not only is true to the original, but also succeeds in bringing the whole thing excitingly alive. The best stuff in this picture are the accounts of aircraft carrier operations and of Navy men afloat and ashore. They are the details of ready-room briefings, of shooting jet planes off cold flight decks, of crackling communications among the planes in the air, of bombing runs on Korean targets, of nerve-racking landings back on the deck and of hasty, heroic maneuvers by the helicopter fellows to fish downed pilots out of the sea. Respect for the heroic effort is immediately inspired. But, of course, there is more to this picture than the mere documenting of ships and planes. There is a poignant story of naval personnel - of a "retread" jet-plane pilot who resents having been called back for this war, of his crisply efficient group commander, his task force admiral and several more. And there is, in a brief but pregnant passage, an indication of the jet pilot's wife and of the pull of his love for his family, from which he has been torn away. In putting forth their stories, the producers and director Mark Robson have been as meticulous and authentic as they have been with Navy details. They have cast the movie to perfection and seen that it is played with rare restraint. William Holden, who plays the pilot, shows a man of mature intelligence, collecting himself for a perilous effort, from which he sees there is no backing down. Fredric March as the paternalistic admiral fairly cracks with the tension of concern, and Charles McGraw as the air group commander carries grave responsibilities with grim resolve. Grace Kelly is briefly bewitching as the pilot's wife, who visits him in Japan, and Mickey Rooney is a pint-sized tornado as a helicopter pilot who loves to clown and fight. Robert Strauss, Earl Holliman and Richard Shannon are solid as other personnel. The questions put in this picture as to the point of the Korean war and the great personal sacrifices in it are not answered, nor are the answers sought. Its purpose is not to answer questions. Its purpose simply is to show the human and professional resolution, organization and sacrifice that prosecution of the war required. And it has fulfilled this purpose in a truly efficient and moving way. (NYT)

My judgement: *** out of 4 stars

Monday, 23 February 2009

3:10 to Yuma

Movie Review: 3:10 to Yuma

Year of Release: 1957
Country of Origin: USA
Director: Delmer Daves
Cast: Glenn Ford, Van Heflin, Felicia Farr

Plot outline: When the outlaw leader Ben Wade is captured, the sheriff must run the gauntlet to get him out of town (IMDb).

3:10 to Yuma follows substantially the same route as that memorable Western High Noon (in High Noon, the menace was coming out of prison; in this movie, he is going in), and it reaches its terminal situation in a remarkably similar way. Despite the similarity, 3:10 to Yuma is a good Western movie, loaded with suspenseful situations and dusty atmosphere. The opening scene of a stage-coach holdup is crisply and ruggedly staged, and all the incidents of lawmen versus bandits are developed nicely from there. The whole thing is neatly acted. Van Heflin as the hero sweats and strains and brings himself up to the crisis like a man truly frightened and torn. Glenn Ford is insultingly casual as the bandit leader who trades on his charm. Richard Jaeckel is harsh as his top henchman, and Henry Jones is droll and deft as a brave drunk. Another good performance is turned in by Robert Emhardt as the proprietor of the stage line who is brave up to a point and then goes cold. As the inevitable females, Leora Dana is austere as the hero's wife, and Felicia Farr is amusingly off-beat and even poignant as a passing saloon girl. (NYT)

My judgement: **1/2 out of 4 stars

Saturday, 21 February 2009

The Robe

Movie Review: The Robe

Year of Release: 1953
Country of Origin: USA
Director: Henry Koster
Cast: Richard Burton, Jean Simmons, Victor Mature, Michael Rennie, Jay Robinson

Plot outline: Marcellus, a tribune in the time of Christ, is in charge of the group that is assigned to crucify Jesus. Tormented by nightmares and delusions after the event, he returns to Palestine to try and learn what he can of the man he killed (IMDb).

The script emphasizes physical action more than the drama of feelings and words. The power of Christ's presence and spirit upon a Roman tribune's slave and then, in time, upon the tribune is not developed in clear dramatic terms; it is simply presented as an assumption upon which the subsequent action turns. The consequence is that the inspiration of the spirit, which is the key to the story that is told, is a matter of sheer deduction from the surge of music and the expressions in eyes. Likewise, the slowness of the pacing through many of the major sequences and the intricacies of the plotting, which run the picture for more than two hours, tend to affect the burdened senses with a feeling of frank monotony. However, the vastness of the images, the eye-filling vigor of the action and the beauty of some of the shots compensate with fascinations and excitements that keep the customer upright in his chair. And the performances by the actors are - all things considered - remarkably good. Richard Burton is stalwart, spirited and stern as the arrogant Roman tribune who has command of the crucifixion of Jesus and who eventually becomes a passionate convert through an obsession about the Savior's robe. Jean Simmons is lovely and impassioned as the Roman maid who loves this headstrong man, Victor Mature is muscular and moody as the early converted Greek slave. Michael Rennie is solemn and transcendent as Simon Called Peter, whom they call "the big fisherman", Dean Jagger is full of piety as a humble convert and Jay Robinson is warped and shrill as Caligula. Several other actors comport themselves in minor roles according to the moods of the occasions that director Henry Koster has decreed. It is notable that Christ is seen only as a wide-robed figure on a distant hill and a tormented, indistinguishable victim burdened beneath the heavy Cross. In this respect the picture has dignity and restraint. (NYT)

My judgement: **1/2 out of 4 stars

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Demetrius and the Gladiators

Movie Review: Demetrius and the Gladiators

Year of Release: 1954
Country of Origin: USA
Director: Delmer Daves
Cast: Victor Mature, Susan Hayward, Michael Rennie, Jay Robinson, Barry Jones, Ernest Borgnine

Plot outline: The story picks up at the point where The Robe ends, following the martyrdom of Marcellus and Diana (IMDb).

The matter of Christian devotion versus pagan tyranny, which became quite a subject for conversation through most of the two hours of The Robe, underlies the dramatic action in this sequel, but the conflict between the two forces is expressed in more direct and muscular terms. The producer and the writer obviously figured that religion may get the people to church, but it takes something more in the way of action to get them into the theatre. So they have millinered this saga along straight Cecil B. Devotional lines, which means stitching on equal cuttings of spectacle, action, sex and reverence. They have got our old friend, Demetrius, still played by Victor Mature, as a prisoner of the Romans and a conscript at the gladiator school. This place is presided over (of all people!) by Ernest Borgnine, the fellow who played Fatso in From Here to Eternity. And it isn't long before Demetrius is not only taking brutality but also finding pious reasons to dish it out, handsomely. Likewise, his sacrosanct resistance to Susan Hayward, who plays the wife of Barry Jones' toddling Claudius, crumbles eventually before the snorting passion of Hayward and a few strokes of circumstance. And it isn't until Michael Rennie, as Peter, comes around like a stern bill collector and taps him that he gets back upon the straight-and-narrow. Meanwhile, director Delmer Daves has dropped in a vast lot of slamming and banging of gladiators, dancing by gauzy handmaidens, rolling around on the floor by assorted female entertainers and general raising of hob. Every so often, Jay Robinson, who didn't quite split his lungs playing the role of Caligula, makes a heroic effort to complete the job in the same role. If we never again see Robinson, we'll be neither sorry nor surprised. This one is no more like The Robe than either of them is like nature or Roman history. (NYT)

My judgement: ** out of 4 stars

Tuesday, 17 February 2009


Movie Review: Harvey

Year of Release: 1950
Country of Origin: USA
Director: Henry Koster
Cast: James Stewart, Josephine Hull, Peggy Dow, Charles Drake

Plot outline: Elwood P. Dowd is a mild-mannered, pleasant man, who just happens (he says) to have an invisible friend resembling a 6-foot rabbit (IMDb).

If you're for warm and gentle whimsy, for a charmingly fanciful farce and for a little touch of pathos anent the fateful evanescence of man's dreams, then Harvey is definitely for you. As a matter of fact, even if you're not in a mood for all of these, an hour and three-quarters with Harvey will do you a world of good. And if it does not, then the fault will be less with Harvey than it will be with you. The real virtue of this picture is its wonderfully warm and sympathetic presentation of character and its wistfully sweet appreciation of the innocence of a benevolent lush. As Elwood P. Dowd, the rabbit fancier - Harvey's companion in killing time - James Stewart is utterly beguiling and disarming of all annoyance. A faint touch of seeming imbecility, which is somewhat distasteful at the start, is quickly dispelled as he makes Elwood a man to be admired. And Josephine Hull plays Elwood's sister with such hilarious confusion and daft concern that she brings quite as much to the picture as does Stewart. Victoria Horne is perfect as Elwood's timorous niece and Jesse White is a smash as the looney-bin guard. Cecil Kellaway as an addled doctor, William Lynn as the family counselor, and Peggy Dow and Charles Drake as young attendants do their jobs cheerfully and well. And that goes for everybody. (

My judgement: *** out of 4 stars

Monday, 16 February 2009

Duel in the Sun

Movie Review: Duel in the Sun

Year of Release: 1946
Country of Origin: USA
Director: King Vidor
Cast: Jennifer Jones, Joseph Cotten, Gregory Peck, Lionel Barrymore

Plot outline: Half-breed Pearl Chavez goes to live with her Anglo relatives, becoming involved in prejudice and forbidden love (IMDb).

Despite all his flashy exploitation, the producer Selznick can't hide the fact that this multimillion-dollar Western is a spectacularly disappointing job. Those are harsh words for a movie upon which the producer of some memorably fine movies has lavished some mighty production and close to a dozen stars. Those are also harsh words about a picture which promises very much and which, even for all its disappointments, has some flashes of brilliance in it. But the ultimate banality of the story and its juvenile slobbering over sex (or should we say "primitive passion"?) compels their use. Reduced to its bare essentials and cleared of a clutter of clichés worn thin in a hundred previous Westerns, Selznick's two-hour-and-a-quarter tale is that of a sun-blistered romance involving a half-breed Indian girl and two dagger-eyed Texas brothers, one of them good and the other very bad. That, as a plot, might be sufficient for a sort of O'Neillian frontier tragedy - and, indeed, once or twice it looks faintly as though this might turn into a valid "Desire Under the Sun". Also, the locale of this fable - a baronial Texas ranch, ruled by a scalawag father wed to a faded flower of the Old South - and the incidental details of the raw life are sufficient to a drama of some point. But Selznick, who wrote it from a novel by Niven Busch, seems to have been more anxious to emphasize the clash of love and lust than to seek some illumination of a complex of arrogance and greed. As a consequence, most of the picture is devoted to the romantic quirks of a tawny-skinned Scarlett O'Hara who wants the noble brother with her heart but can't help loving the scoundrel with her notably feeble flesh. The performances are strangely uneven - all of them. The best and the most consistent is that of Gregory Peck, who makes of the renegade brother a credibly vicious and lawless character. The next best is that of Walter Huston as a frontier evangelist. As the desert flower, cause of all the turmoil, Jennifer Jones gives occasional glints of the pathos of loneliness and heartbreak, but mostly she has to pretend to be the passion-torn child of nature in the loosest theatrical style. Likewise, Lionel Barrymore and Lillian Gish are pretty porky as the Texas tycoons, and Joseph Cotten, Charles Bickford and many others are no better - nor worse - than the script allows. However, Duel in the Sun is still something to see - provided you understand clearly that it is the bankroll and not the emotions by which you will be shocked. (NYT)

My judgement: ** out of 4 stars

Friday, 13 February 2009

Love Among the Ruins

Movie Review: Love Among the Ruins

Year of Release: 1975
Country of Origin: UK
Director: George Cukor
Cast: Katharine Hepburn, Laurence Olivier

Plot outline: An aging actress is being sued for breach of promise by her much-younger ex-fiance. She hires as her lawyer a man who was an ex-lover and is still in love with her (IMDb).

This made-for-television movie brings together the formidable talents of director George Cukor, Katherine Hepburn and Laurence Olivier. These old stagers, at Hepburn's suggestion, came together to bring to film a tale set in London's courts and barrister's chambers. Hepburn plays the aged and widowed Jessica Medlicott, who had foolishly promised to marry a young spivvish fortune-hunter Alfred Pratt (Leigh Lawson), a man some 40 years younger than her. It's not totally an unlikely scenario - after all, veteran actress Celeste Holm, aged 91, in 2004 married an opera-singer 40 years her junior. But Alfred Pratt was no opera-singer. He's definitely made of cheaper stuff. And when Jessica comes to her senses and breaks off the relationship, he sues her for 'Breach of Promise'. Enter Olivier. He's hired to defend her, but recognises her instantly as the actress with whom, while he was visiting Canada very many years earlier, he had had an intense affair. He fell in love with her, and though she quickly disappeared from his life, he never fell out of love. But strangely, Jessica doesn't recognise him at all, nor remember anything about their liaison. Or is she just feigning forgetfulness? While he fights her case, he keeps trying to trigger her memory. And when it becomes apparent that the only way he can win her case is to paint her in front of the jury as a pathetic and absurd creature, he's trapped in an agonising dilemma - would the woman he still loves ever forgive him if he takes that course? This is a quite charming period-piece, low on action of course, while very high on dialogue. It captures Hepburn in a less-mannered performance than usual, and Olivier also gives a more natural performance than he often did. This was the first and only time these old friends had acted together - for that reason alone, and for the direct, unsensational direction by George Cukor, this has undeniable historical value. (DNA)

My judgement: **1/2 out of 4 stars

Monday, 9 February 2009

Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing

Movie Review: Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing

Year of Release: 1955
Country of Origin: USA
Director: Henry King
Cast: William Holden, Jennifer Jones

Plot outline: The story of a married but separated American correspondent who falls in love with a Eurasian doctor only to encounter prejudice from her family and from Hong Kong society (IMDb).

Adapted from the novel A Many-Splendoured Thing by Han Suyin, the theme song "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing" does as much to establish the emotional level of this elaborately sentimental movie as does the talkative screen play or the earnest performing of the stars. For it is the tune of this deeply unctuous ballad, played as an insistent refrain behind the developing love scenes of William Holden and Jennifer Jones, that expresses the sweetness and monotony of the dew-dappled romance that occurs, with the upbeats and surges hotly thundered in stereo sound. In the novel, there were several dominant factors to restrain and, indeed, to obstruct the development and emotional fulfillment of their love. For one thing, the fact that the woman was neither all English nor all Chinese served to stigmatize her socially and cast her in a marginal world. For another, her passionate interest in medicine and the need for her to assist in combating a local epidemic often got in the way of romance. In the picture, however, the producers have allowed these considerable factors to be only token restraints. The medical interest is minor. There is no epidemic, but just an orphan child, to deflect very slightly the professional duty and the emotional concentration of the woman. And the social taboo is almost funny. The only thing that stands between them and their marriage is that, unfortunately, the man is already wed. This is the sole and stubborn barrier - until he is killed in the Korean war. With an impotent screen play, it is no wonder that Holden and Jones find themselves going around in narrowing circles, talking endlessly and holding hands. There is a great deal of running to meet each other at the top of a hill or looking out across the lovely harbor and insisting this simply can't go on. Holden is serious and unyielding; Jones is lovely and intense. Her dark beauty reflects sunshine and sadness. She could be a piece of delicately carved stone. There is little to say of the other actors Torin Thatcher and Isobel Elsom are English snobs, Jorja Curtright is a cheap Eurasian mistress and Kam Tong is a Chinese doctor with a Red tinge. The Hong Kong scenery is endlessly exciting in color. But the locale and its restless population have little or nothing to do with the shaping of the tale. (NYT)

My judgement: *** out of 4 stars

Sunday, 8 February 2009

The Song of Bernadette

Movie Review: The Song of Bernadette

Year of Release: 1943
Country of Origin: USA
Director: Henry King
Cast: Jennifer Jones, Charles Bickford, Vincent Price, Gladys Cooper

Plot outline: The story of Bernadette Soubirous, who, from February to July 1858 in Lourdes, France, reported 18 apparitions of "a Lady" (IMDb).

Adapted from a novelization of Bernadette Soubirous' story written by Franz Werfel, The Song of Bernadette is an eloquent story and a hymn to the everlasting beauty of innocence and faith. Unquestionably, the movie is tedious and repetitious; it takes two hours and forty minutes to explore a singular mystical experience and its almost wholly spiritual effects. It lingers too fondly over images that lack visual mobility, and it goes in for dialectic discourse that will clutter and fatigue the average mind. But, it is done with great reverential dignity and - except in one aspect - good taste. It is played with exceptional authority by a large and completely excellent cast. And, through Jennifer Jones who plays the difficult role of Bernadette, it achieves a rare quality of sweetness that lifts it above its common faults. There is fine appreciation of the character of Bernadette in this movie, largely because of the simplicity and beauty of Miss Jones in the role. Her large, sad eyes and soft face, her wistful mouth and luminous smile are a thoroughly appealing exterior for the innocence which shines from within. And her manner, both dignified and humble, modest yet confident, is a wonderful contrast to the shadings of lay and clerical personalities which confront her on all sides. Charles Bickford gives a strong interpretation of the Catholic dean of Lourdes who champions the guileless maiden when he perceives her unshakable sincerity, and Vincent Price, Lee J. Cobb and Charles Dingle etch the attitudes of townsmen trenchantly. Anne Revere, Roman Bonen and Sig Ruman are touching as simple folks, and numberless other actors are true in supporting roles. One might question the taste of the producers, as well as the dramatic effectiveness, in their use of a visible, effulgent woman to represent "the lady" whom Bernadette sees. This white-robed, seraphic vision is too obvious a bit of pageantry to convey the overpowering exaltation of divine and miraculous grace. And the use in the musical background of soaring violins, choral voices and chimes is a curious representation of the emotional response of a peasant girl. It would seem that this phase of the picture could have been handled much more imaginatively. (NYT)

My judgement: ***1/2 out of 4 stars

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town

Movie Review: Mr. Deeds Goes to Town

Year of Release: 1936
Country of Origin: USA
Director: Frank Capra
Cast: Gary Cooper, Jean Arthur

Plot outline: Longfellow Deeds, a simple-hearted tuba player, inherits a fortune and has to contend with opportunist city slickers (IMDb).

The directing-writing combination which functioned so successfully in It Happened One Night has spiced this light-hearted story with wit, novelty, and ingenuity. Longfellow Deeds is the hero of the occasion and he becomes one of our favorite characters under the attentive handling of Gary Cooper. Mr. Deeds is the poet laureate of Mandrake Falls, Vermont. He writes greeting-day verses, and plays the tuba in the town band. Then an uncle dies, leaving his $20,000,000 estate to him, and he - slightly dazed but unimpressed by his sudden riches - is tossed willy-nilly into scheming New York. Crooked lawyers beset him, the board of the opera elects him chairman, a girl reporter gains his confidence and then headlines him as the "Cinderella Man". Crushed, derided, deceived, and disillusioned, the lean Mr. Deeds prepares to share the wealth by establishing a collective farm colony and then, cruelest jest of all, he is hauled before a lunacy commission and only by the narrowest of margins and the love of Jean Arthur, the repentant sob sister, escapes being adjudged a manic depressive. If this is the story in outline, it does not attempt to capture the gay, harebrained, but entirely ingratiating quality of the picture. To appreciate that, you will have to watch Mr. Cooper struggling with the tuba, Mr. Stander fighting off apoplexy, Raymond Walburn (that most perfect gentleman's gentleman) raising his voice against an echo, and, ultimately, the scene of the lunacy commission's hearing which is as perfect a spoof of alienists and expert testimony as the screen has presented. It is on this rousingly comic note that the movie ends, and the memory of it should be enough to erase the vague impression we got that the movie had bogged down for a time in mid-career. (NYT)

My judgement: ***1/2 out of 4 stars

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Marie Galante

Movie Review: Marie Galante

Year of Release: 1934
Country of Origin: USA
Director: Henry King
Cast: Spencer Tracy, Ketti Gallian

Plot outline: Unintentionally shanghaied out of her French seacoast village by a drunken captain of a tramp steamer, Marie Galante finds herself penniless and puzzled in a strange land (IMDb).

A white-faced blonde with the mysterious veiled eyes of one who holds fascinating and unbelievable secrets, Ketti Gallian is frail, lovely and very quietly over-whelming. The work in which she appears is an ambitious and interesting story of international intrigue which is better in intention than in actual achievement. Freely adapted from Jacques Deval's novel, Marie Galante tells the strange tale of a stranded French girl who becomes the innocent central figure in a whirling confusion of sabotage and counter-espionage in the Panama Canal zone. In conception and occasionally in execution the plot is an arresting melodrama, with a fresh and vivid approach to the materials of espionage. Unfortunately it suffers from several major flaws, which force the movie steadily into mediocrity after a fine beginning. Unable and unwilling to clarify the meaning and background of the gigantic plot, it leaves the audience with the dissatisfied feeling of unappeased curiosity. Finally, the movie asks its audiences to believe that a girl of presumably average intelligence can be the unwitting dupe of various rogues without once suspecting their intentions. In addition to the excellent Miss Gallian there are attractive performances by Spencer Tracy, Sig Ruman, Leslie Fenton and Arthur Byron. (NYT)

My judgement: **1/2 out of 4 stars

Monday, 2 February 2009

The Glass Menagerie

Movie Review: The Glass Menagerie

Year of Release: 1973
Country of Origin: USA
Director: Anthony Harvey
Cast: Katharine Hepburn, Sam Waterston, Joanna Miles, Michael Moriarty

Plot outline: A son longs to escape from his stifling home, where his genteel mother worries about the future prospects of his lame, shy sister (IMDb).

Previously filmed in 1950, Tennessee Williams' 1944 Broadway hit The Glass Menagerie was remade for television in 1973. Katharine Hepburn is top-billed as Amanda Wingfield, a faded southern belle who lives on her memories in a Depression-era St. Louis tenement. Sam Waterston narrates the story as Amanda's idealistic son Tom, who'd give anything to escape his mother's fantasy world. Tom's withdrawn, clubfooted sister Laura, who maintains the glass menagerie of the title, is portrayed by Joanna Miles, while Michael Moriarity plays the Gentleman Caller, whose presence disrupts the fragile existence of the Wingfield family unit. The Glass Menagerie represented Katharine Hepburn's TV movie debut, the first of many well-publicized, highly-lauded small screen appearances for the veteran actress. (HE)

My judgement: *** out of 4 stars

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Father's Little Dividend

Movie Review: Father's Little Dividend

Year of Release: 1951
Country of Origin: USA
Director: Vincente Minnelli
Cast: Spencer Tracy, Joan Bennett, Elizabeth Taylor

Plot outline: In this sequel to Father of the Bride, newly married Kay Dunstan announces that she and her husband are going to have a baby, leaving her father having to come to grips with the fact that he will soon be a grandfather (IMDb).

Father's Little Dividend tells of the trials of the bride's father when his darling daughter whelps her first child. Sounds slightly obvious, does it? Well, if becoming a granddad is that, then it is. But the way it is played by all the principals from the original cast, headed by Spencer Tracy, make for great diversion on the screen. Under the sure-touch direction of Vincente Minnelli, Tracy is sitting down again to remember, in a mood of mild sarcasm, some of the things that have happened to him since last we saw him as the papa amid the debris of his daughter's wedding feast. And among the things that he remembers are the night that his daughter informed him, his wife and her husband's parents that she was going to have a baby; the bristling contention among the in-laws as to a name for and monopoly of the child (all of this far in advance of the date on which it is to be born); the night that his daughter "left" her husband and came home dismally "to live" - and, of course, the alarms and excursions attendant upon the birth. All the way through the picture Tracy does a wonderful job of displaying the agonized reactions of a father and a badly baffled man. And the same goes entirely for Joan Bennett as the charmingly eccentric wife, for Elizabeth Taylor as the expectant mother and for Billie Burke and Moroni Olsen as the other in-laws. Don Taylor does even better as the tormented husband of the girl, and in him one sees the definite glimmers of another distracted father twenty years hence. (NYT)

My judgement: **1/2 out of 4 stars