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

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Greer Garson
MADAME CURIE (1943). Director: Mervyn LeRoy.

"Four long years in this shed!"

A young Polish woman named Marie (Greer Garson) comes to France to study and is introduced to a scientist, Pierre Curie (Walter Pidgeon), who will have great impact on her life. Although the early sections of the movie are a little tedious with all the scientific jargon, eventually Madame Curie builds up interest and an emotional current. After her marriage to Pierre, Marie is convinced that she has discovered a new active element, radium, and Pierre drops his own research to assist her. In a poorly heated, leaky shed the two spend years trying to isolate this element, performing literally thousands of experiments, and even then seem to be met with failure... There is a certain amount of dramatic license taken, time and events juggled, altered and compressed, but the basic facts are there, and the movie is well-done and well-acted, especially by a marvelous Garson. Pidgeon, though never in her league, is better than usual. Robert Walker has a small role as Pierre's lab assistant, and Van Johnson has practically a bit as a reporter who interviews Marie when she is on vacation. Madame Curie is decidedly a woman of historical and scientific importance for many reasons, although nowadays the practical uses of radium are rather limited. [She also discovered polonium, named after her native Poland.]

Verdict: Garson is always watchable. ***. 

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