Anna Lucasta (1949)

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A liberated young woman refuses to be the floozy her family wants her to be!
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US / 86 minutes / bw / Security, Columbia Dir: Irving Rapper Pr: Philip Yordan Scr: Arthur Laurents Story: Anna Lucasta (1944; play) by Philip Yordan Cine: Sol Polito Cast: Paulette Goddard, William Bishop, John Ireland, Oskar Homolka, Broderick Crawford, Will Geer, Gale Page, Mary Wickes, Whit Bissell, Lisa Golm, James Brown, Dennie Moore, Anthony Caruso.

Anna Lucasta - 0 opener

In the small town of Mayberry, Pennsylvania, ex-farmer Joe Lucasta (Homolka) rules his Polish–American family with a drunken fist—or tries to, anyway, his position of power having been largely usurped by his thuggish son-in-law Frank (Crawford), married to Joe’s daughter Stella (Wickes). Others in the household are Joe’s wife Theresa (Golm), his son Stanley (Bissell) and Stanley’s wife Katie (Page). Frank and his slavish follower Stanley are essentially layabouts and Stella’s a small-minded shrew. The most frequent line of dialogue employed by the family is “Aw, shuddup.”

Anna Lucasta - 7 Joe, in typically snarling mode

Joe (Oskar Homolka), in typically snarling mode.

The only sympathetic characters among the tribe are Katie, who seems an order of magnitude more intelligent than the others, and Continue reading

Morton Thompson’s Not as a Stranger (1955)

vt Not as a Stranger
US / 136 minutes / bw / Kramer, UA Dir & Pr: Stanley Kramer Scr: Edna Anhalt, Edward Anhalt Story: Not as a Stranger (1954) by Morton Thompson Cine: Franz Planer Cast: Olivia de Havilland, Robert Mitchum, Frank Sinatra, Gloria Grahame, Broderick Crawford, Charles Bickford, Myron McCormick, Lon Chaney Jr., Jesse White, Harry Morgan, Lee Marvin, Virginia Christine, Whit Bissell, Jack Raine, Mae Clarke, William Vedder, John Dierkes, Jerry Paris, Juanita Moore.

Kramer’s first movie as a director has little noirish interest outside its cast, which is crowded out with major and minor contributors to the genre, such as Mitchum, Grahame, de Havilland, Sinatra, Crawford, Morgan, Marvin, Christine and a number of familiar faces among the extensive list of uncredited actors. Its source, Thompson’s novel, was a whopping medical drama exploring the same thematic territory that the UK author A.J. Cronin had mapped out a quarter of a century earlier in novels like The Citadel (1937).

Lucas “Luke” Marsh (Mitchum) is a medical student dedicated to the point of obsession in his studies at a big-city teaching hospital; unfortunately, his father Job (Chaney) has drunk all of Luke’s inheritance from his mother and, though Luke’s tutor Dr. Aarons (Crawford) and best pal Alfred “Al” Boone (Sinatra) lend him some money toward paying his fees, it’s only enough for the hospital bursar (Dierkes) to give him a 30-day extension before, unless he finds the rest, he’ll be expelled.

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Robert Mitchum as Luke Marsh with Gloria Grahame as the predatory widow Harriet Lang: “They always warn you about solitary drinking,” she purrs at him, “but they never tell you how to get people to stay up and drink with you.”

Shy Swedish–American nurse Kristina “Kris” Hedvigson (de Havilland) worships the ground Luke treads on; so far as he’s concerned, she’s just an older woman who’s kind enough to help him from time to time. (In fact, de Havilland was just a year or so older than the supposedly student-age Mitchum. Sinatra was actually older than de Havilland.) But, at a smorgasbord party that Kris throws, her friend Bruni (Christine) brags that Kris has extensive savings; soon, to the horror of Continue reading