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

Thursday, March 13, 2014

PAULA

Teaching Davey to speak: Rettig, Knox and Young















PAULA (1952). Director: Rudolph Mate.

After a miscarriage Paula Rogers (Loretta Young) is told by her doctor that she can't have any more children, and it is in this distracted mental state that she accidentally hits a young boy, David (Tommy Rettig), while driving home. Although she immediately gets out of her car and rushes to the child, an old man, Bascom (Will Wright)  -- who actually contributed to the accident -- decides unfairly that she is drunk and forbids her to accompany them to the hospital. As Paula's husband, John (Kent Smith) may lose a coveted position if there's any hint of scandal, Paula hides the truth and decides to help the boy behind the scenes. She becomes a kind of nurse's aid, befriends the boy -- who has lost his ability to speak due to the trauma, and is an orphan -- and eventually takes him into her home. But what happens when and if he recognizes her from that night? And there's still that horrible old man who claimed she was inebriated ...  Young gives a good performance and Rettig (Elopement), with his little, expressive face, is just marvelous. Alexander Knox (Son of Dr. Jekyll) plays a doctor who tries to get Davey to speak, and Kathryn Card (I Love Lucy) is cast as a nurse. While this is more of a light drama than a suspense film, it definitely has a lump-in-your-throat finale. Mate also directed the classic D.O.A.

Verdict: Minor but effective enough on its own terms. **1/2.

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