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

Thursday, December 18, 2014


THE REMARKABLE MR. PENNYPACKER (1959). Director: Henry Levin.

"Morality is a matter of geography."

The progressive Horace Pennypacker (Clifton Webb) has one wife and many children in one town in Pennsylvania, and a whole different family in another town in the state -- sooner or later each family will learn of the other's existence and then what? Mr. Pennypacker answers that question and manages to milk much humor out of a decidedly serious situation. It also manages to be surprisingly frank at times, if a trifle unreal. Webb is, as ever, excellent, and there are fine performances from Dorothy McGuire [Invitation] as unwitting wife, Emily; Dorothy Stickney [Murder at the Vanities] as Aunt Jane; Doro Merande [The Gazebo] as the secretary, Miss Haskins; and Charles Coburn as Grandfather Pennypacker; and there's nice support from Jill St. John as Kate. Ray Stricklyn and David Nelson are two other children, and Ron Ely is a young minister who's fallen for Kate. However entertaining the film may be, there is no denying that Horace's reasons for entering into a second bigamous marriage are rather spurious and self-centered. Still, it's hard not to like the movie on its own terms, and it even has some suspense.

Verdict: Another winning Webb performance. ***.

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