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

Thursday, December 25, 2014


Robert Ryan and Shirley Booth
ABOUT MRS. LESLIE (1954). Director: Daniel Mann.

Vivian Leslie (Shirley Booth) operates a boarding house out of her suburban home and tries not to get too involved in the lives of her tenants. After Pixie (Eilene Janssen), the spoiled teenage girl next door, tells her she should mind her business because she's never been married or had children, Vivian thinks back to her relationship with a man named George Leslie (Robert Ryan), who is a Civil War aficionado. Was he her husband, or wasn't he? .. Since the movie is unpredictable I won't say any more about the plot, but the picture holds the attention. After winning both a Tony and an Oscar for her role in the stage and screen versions of Come Back, Little Sheba, Shirley Booth co-starred in this interesting soap opera although her performance is a trifle uneven. She and Ryan play well-together even if you can't quite see them as a couple. Interspersed with the flashbacks is the secondary love story of dancer Lan McKay (Alex Nicol) and aspiring actress Nadine (Marjie Millar). Although About Mrs. Leslie is in many ways a nice picture, the fact remains that much of it is superficial and doesn't ring true -- some scenes haven't the required impact -- and Ryan's character is not altogether commendable. Great Old Movies' favorite Percy Helton figures in a funny scene wherein he plays a restaurant owner. Alex Nicol [Because of You] gives a good performance, but Marjie Millar, who had a tragic life and early death, can't act, sadly. Nicol later directed The Screaming Skull.

Verdict: Unsatisfying but intriguing soaper. **1/2.

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