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Thursday, February 10, 2011
THE VIEW FROM POMPEY'S HEAD
THE VIEW FROM POMPEY'S HEAD (1955). Director: Philip Dunne.
"I was only eight when [my father] died but I would have killed him if I could." -- Garvin.
"The past is a thief, it doesn't give us anything but only robs us of the future." -- Dinah.
Lawyer Anson "Sonny" Page (Richard Egan) returns to his home town in the south to investigate a lawsuit filed against a publishing house he represents by the wife (Marjorie Rambeau) of a famous author, Garvin Wales (Sidney Blackmer). While he attempts to discover the truth behind the lawsuit -- which charges a late friend and associate of Wale's with virtual embezzlement -- he meets up with his old flame Dinah (Dana Wynter), and finds himself falling in love with her again -- and vice versa -- despite the fact that both are married. The film concentrates much more on the love story than did the Hamilton Basso novel upon which it was based, but also manages to touch upon racial inequality and class distinctions as well, albeit in a way that may seem dated and limited due to the time period. On the plus side, the film is very romantic, with lush photography of real and very beautiful Southern locations, and a very nice score by Elmer Bernstein. Cameron Mitchell is cast and plays well as Dinah's husband; Egan is quite good as Page; and Dana Wynter -- lovelier than ever -- gives perhaps her finest performance as Dinah. The title refers to an old-fashioned, genteel, oh-so-proper Southern way of life and thinking. There are interesting situations and developments along the way, although most of the melodramatic moments concerning the love triangle seem to have been cooked up by the screenwriter. Beautiful to look at, The View from Pompey's Head might be a good bet for a wide screen digitally-remastered DVD release.
Verdict: Despite its flaws, this is rather sumptuous and Wynter is in her summer. ***.