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

Thursday, June 5, 2008


THE FAMILY SECRET (1951). Director: Henry Levin.

David Clark (John Derek, pictured) kills his drunken, knife-wielding best friend in self-defense but he and his father Howard (Lee J. Cobb) decide to keep quiet about it. Unfortunately, an innocent man (Whit Bissell) is arrested for the crime and Howard winds up defending him. The Clarks' silence ultimately proves tragic. Interesting, but irritating, drama has some good performances and situations, but never quite comes to grips with the moral questions and dilemmas it poses. Erin O'Brien-Moore is David's concerned, over-protective mother, and Dorothy Tree is the wife of the man put on trial for David's crime. This could have used a few more plot twists. For one thing, we have only David's word that it was self-defense. Jody Lawrance is appealing as Lee, Howard' secretary and a romantic interest for David.

Verdict: Unsatisfactory but holds the attention. **1/2.

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