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

Thursday, February 5, 2015


Susan Hayward
STOLEN HOURS (aka Summer Flight/1963). Director: Daniel Petrie.

In this remake of Dark Victory, Laura Pember (Susan Hayward) is experiencing headaches and vision problems and is scared to see a doctor. In a wholly contrived scene, her friend, racing car driver Mike (Edward Judd), brings Dr. John Carmody (Michael Craig) to see Laura at a party she's throwing for her younger sister, Ellie (Diane Baker). It isn't long before Laura is being operated on [there's less technical information in this than in the original], thinking she's had a full recovery, and falling in love with her rather dreamy doctor. She doesn't know that her condition will reoccur and she'll be dead in a few months ... As in the original, Laura will experience no symptoms until the very end, and can die looking beautiful. At 46, Hayward is slightly too old to play the very youthful Laura, but her performance is generally very good. Judd [Island of Terror] and Baker are suitable support. Michael Craig [Doctor in Love] is required mostly to be handsome and certainly fills the bill. This version ups the tear factor by having Laura bond with a lonely little boy, Peter (quite well acted by Robert Bacon, who had only this one film credit), whose mother is an alcoholic. Laura takes the mother's place at a parent-child celebration, and holds a party for him and his friends. Although it's absurd that Laura would send away her husband and sister when the "moment" approaches -- does she want to drop dead in front of a bunch of unsupervised children? -- the ending is still quite poignant. Mort Lindsey's score is a help as are the beautiful shots of the Cornish coastline [Harry Waxman]. The most interesting scene has Laura objecting when paramedics want to cover the face of a badly injured man at a race track. "Don't cover his face while he's alive," she says. "Let him see as long as he can see." (Of course, the whole notion of paramedics covering a living person's face, no matter how injured or unconscious, is highly improbable anyway.) Petrie also directed Moon of the Wolf and many other movies.

Verdict: Has its moments, but stick with the original. **1/2.


angelman66 said...

I actually saw this film first, before Dark Victory (Stolen Hours was featured on the Afternoon Movie I used to watch after school at 4 p.m. on weekdays as a middle-schooler!) , and it was my introduction to the beautiful and intense Susan Hayward. I was delighted to discover later on (thanks to the Blockbuster era) she made so many better pictures than this one!
Thanks for the memory, William, you've made me want to catch this one again.

William said...

Susan Hayward has always been one of my favorites for the very intensity that you mention. She did make quite a few bad movies but she was always interesting.

Neil A Russell said...

Didn't even know this existed. Just for the sake of completeness I'll have to chase it down!
Thanks for the tip Bill!

William said...

My pleasure, Neil. It's watchable enough.