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

Thursday, March 14, 2013


INVITATION (1952). Director: Gottfried Reinhardt.

"I'm going to be a spinster, father, all of my life -- but there's an awful lot to be said for it."

Ellen Pierce (Dorothy McGuire) is happy in her marriage to Dan (Van Johnson), but she's disturbed by bitchy comments made by Dan's old girlfriend, Maud (Ruth Roman), as well as a medical condition that often saps her energy. Dan and Ellen's father (Louis Calhern), as well as her doctor (Ray Collins), share a secret that would devastate Ellen if she knew, and which Maud is apparently determined she find out. Although like most movies of this nature you have to take Invitation with a grain of salt, it does present an interesting situation and is well-acted. All of the principal actors underplay effectively (although at times they may underplay too much), which may be attributed to director Reinhardt. This makes Maud seem like less of a caricature, although Roman's good performance might have been more fun if she played it in venomous mode, spitting out her lines; McGuire and Johnson are both fine, and Calhern is as excellent as ever. A difficult scene when Ellen's father makes a certain proposition to Dan is extremely well-played by both actors. Bronislau Kaper's overly brassy score is a disappointment and somewhat weakens the picture.

Verdict: Intriguing soap opera/drama. ***.

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