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

Thursday, December 12, 2013


Ida Lupino and Monty Woolley
LIFE BEGINS AT EIGHT-THIRTY (1942). Director: Irving Pichel.

"On the stage you're still a god. Off, you're still a hairy monster." 

Kathy Thomas is a lame young lady who lives and cares for her actor father, Madden Thomas (Monty Woolley), an irascible chap who is rather too fond of his liquor. Madden figures that he's all washed up in the theater, but he's offered a job by a neighbor, composer Robert Carter (Cornel Wilde), and then has a chance to star in a new production of "King Lear." But will he muff his chances for success with his usual self-destructiveness, and will his selfless daughter wind up an unloved spinster caring for her father for the rest of his life? Life Begins at Eight-Thirty doesn't dodge the tough questions about being a caregiver, especially for someone you love but find exasperating, and also ponders how much of a person's life they should give up for another's. [Of course, Madden is not exactly ready for a nursing home.]  The worst dialogue is given to Wilde, who's quite stiff as Robert and offers one of the least romantic proposals ever seen on film. Lupino and Woolley are excellent, but the picture is nearly stolen by Sara Allgood, perennial supporting player, who has one of her best and longest roles as Robert's wealthy aunt, who has been carrying a torch for Madden for many years.

Verdict: Entertaining comedy-drama with equal parts cliche and insight. ***.

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