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

Thursday, May 22, 2014


Claudette Colbert
THE SECRET HEART (1946). Director: Robert Z. Leonard.

On shipboard, Lee (Claudette Colbert) is romanced by Chris (Walter Pidgeon), who urges her to marry him instead of his "friend," Larry Addams (Richard Derr), to whom she is engaged. But Lee does marry Larry and finds herself trapped in a relationship with a neurotic, paranoid composer -- basically an asshole -- who takes a long time to finally dispose of himself. Chris comes back into Lee's life, but she resists him out of guilt. Another complication is that her step-daughter, Penny (June Allyson), thinks she's fallen in love with the much older Chris -- when she learns the truth of whom he really loves will she go the way of her father? The Secret Heart is an absorbing enough romantic melodrama, bolstered by some very good performances, especially from Colbert, Derr [Terror is a Man], Robert Sterling [Bunco Squad] as Lee's stepson and Patricia Medina as his fiancee. Lionel Barrymore is in Wise Old Owl mode as Penny's shrink, and Marshall Thompson is charming as a young man who is attracted to a dismissive Penny. June Allyson is not bad as Penny, although, as usual, she's a trifle cloying, and Pidgeon manages to hold his own with Colbert without being on her level. Elizabeth Patterson and Dwayne Hickman are also in the cast. Leonard also directed the far superior In the Good Old Summertime.

Verdict: Some people you can live without. **1/2.

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