Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

JOHNNY BELINDA

Lew Ayres and Jane Wyman
JOHNNY BELINDA (1948). Director: Jean Negulesco.

A new doctor in a small village on an island in Nova Scotia, Robert Richardson (Lew Ayres), who hasn't quite been accepted by the locals, befriends and helps a deaf-mute woman [whom even her loved ones call the "dummy"], Belinda (Jane Wyman), and helps her to lip-read and make her thoughts and feelings known. When Belinda is raped by local tough guy Locky, (Stephen McNally), it leads to ugly rumors about Belinda and the doctor, not to mention a custody battle over the child, the titular Johnny, and even a murder trial! Wyman is excellent, with solid support from Ayres; Charles Bickford as Belinda's father; Agnes Moorehead as her aunt; McNally as Johnny's father; and Jan Sterling as Locky's confused but compassionate wife. The film is beautifully photographed by Ted D. McCord, and has a fine score by Max Steiner. Not quite a masterpiece, but lovely and interesting. Mabel Paige, who played the owner of Hanson's dress shop on I Love Lucy, plays an unsympathetic role as one of the village's gossiping old biddies. 

Verdict: A nice picture with a fine cast. ***.

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