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

Thursday, February 6, 2014


George Sanders and Linda Darnell
SUMMER STORM (1944). Director: Douglas Sirk.

Based on Anton Chekhov's novel "The Shooting Party" this features George Sanders as a Russian judge and Linda Darnell as a Russian peasant! Despite this miscasting, the two actors play well together in the story of Fedor Petroff (Sanders), who neglects his fiancee, Nadena (Anna Lee), after he meets the beautiful Olga (Darnell), whom he knows is "beneath" him but whom he must possess come hell or highwater. An added complication is Olga's unhappy marriage to Anton (Hugo Haas), whose tragedy this chiefly becomes. Darnell is fine, and Sanders offers his usual good performance, but this is an actor whose forte is coolness, not passion, so he never really gets across his passionate feelings for Olga nor anything else. Haas, who also directed such "B" movies as One Girl's Confession, arguably offers the best performance as the likable but tormented Anton. Edward Everett Horton [Lady on a Train] is as good and as much fun as ever, although he, too, seems highly miscast as a womanizing nobleman of ill repute. Anna Lee [The Crimson Kimono] and Laurie Lane as the maid Clara both make a good impression. The whole sordid business comes to a very satisfactory conclusion, although the ultimate fate of one unhappy character is never disclosed.

Verdict: Intriguing romantic drama with interesting cast. ***.

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