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

Monday, June 9, 2008


THE CORN IS GREEN (1945). Director: Irving Rapper.

Lilly Moffat (Bette Davis) comes to a small Welsh village and decides to help the miners -- many of whom are children -- by opening a small school and teaching them how to read and write. She especially focuses on a young man, Morgan Evans (John Dall), whom she thinks has real potential and can get a scholarship to a major university. But Bessie, (Joan Lorring) the impish, rather nasty daughter of Moffat's housekeeper Watty (Rosalind Ivan) has other plans for the young man. Mildred Dunnock and Rhys Williams are two villagers that Moffat enlists as teachers, and Nigel Bruce is the Squire with whom Miss Moffat must cross swords but whom she easily outwits. Bette Davis gives it a good try, and to be fair, her performance is lively and interesting, but she's much too young for the part and she plays Miss Moffat with an affectedness that goes completely against the down-to-Earth quality of the character. The rest of the cast is much better, however, especially Bruce and Dunnock. John Dall gives a superb performance, and young Joan Lorring, who was "introduced" in the film along with Dall, almost walks off with the movie. There are a lot of things one could quibble about in the film -- the miners always sound like a professional chorus as they march by singing, and the ending is a bit pat and has questionable aspects -- but The Corn of Green -- with its emphasis on knowledge and learning and bettering oneself and the plight of one's fellow man -- is still a solid, absorbing, well-crafted film that is undeniably stirring and poignant. Nice Max Steiner score as well.

Verdict: Good show! ***1/2.

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