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

Thursday, June 19, 2014


Lansbury, Fonda and Finch amidst scenic Grecian splendor
IN THE COOL OF THE DAY (1963). Director: Robert Stevens.

"Murray and I already call each other by our first names. It happens fast in America." -- Christine

"I hear everything does." -- Sybil

Murray Logan (Peter Finch) is married to a bitter woman, Sybil (Angela Lansbury), who was scarred in the car accident in which their son was killed. Murray becomes friendly with Christine (Jane Fonda), the wife of his old friend Sam Bonner (Steven Hill); both men are in the publishing business. Sam treats Christine, who has major medical problems, as if she were a fragile child, and this is threatening their marriage. Christine gets the idea that the two couples should go off to Greece and have a great vacation. Surprisingly, Sybil agrees, but at the last minute Sam can't make it. Will the attraction that Murray and Christine feel for each other move up a notch when they're in Greece? What do you think? In the Cool of the Day could be dismissed -- and probably was -- as a soap opera or travelogue or both, but it's actually not a bad movie, in large part due to the interesting characters and the performances of the ladies; Fonda is simply outstanding and Lansbury, although she has a less sympathetic role, is also excellent. Finch was a fine actor but he doesn't have that much chemistry with Fonda (luckily she makes up for this) and at times seems completely disinterested in the proceedings. Constance Cummings is Christine's mother and Alexander Knox plays Sam's father, Frederick. If you don't care for the story you can always enjoy Peter Newbrook's photography of Athens and Delphi, as well as Francis Chagrin's flavorful musical score. It's hard for movies like this, based on novels where the author can describe the internal feelings of the characters, to work, but this is quite effective at times.

Verdict: Very interesting picture with a wonderful lead performance from Fonda. ***.

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