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

Thursday, July 14, 2011


SUNRISE AT CAMPOBELLO (1960). Director: Vincent J. Donehue.

Based on the play by Dore Schary, Sunrise at Campobello takes place in the 1920's in the days when future President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Ralph Bellamy) was stricken with polio. With the help of his wife Eleanor (Greer Garson), his mother (Ann Shoemaker), children and close friends, Roosevelt not only comes to terms with his affliction, but rises ever higher in the political arena. Bellamy first played the role on the stage, and he's fine, if a bit artificial at times. Garson is quite good as Eleanor, although at first her prominent buck teeth are a distraction. But as good as the leads are, the film is practically stolen by Ann Shoemaker, superb as Roosevelt's concerned if somewhat domineering mother, and Hume Cronyn as Roosevelt's friend and associate Louis Howe. These two fine actors play characters who don't especially like each other [at least Mrs. Roosevelt finds Howe vulgar], and their crackling scenes together are the highlights of the movie. Serial king Lyle Talbot shows up briefly as another politician. Sunrise at Campobello is overlong, but it's moving and generally effective.

Verdict: Worth seeing for Shoemaker if nothing else. ***1/2.

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