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

Thursday, September 3, 2015


Cornel Wilde
THE WALLS OF JERICHO (1948). Director: John M. Stahl.

"Whatever possessed him to marry such a creature?"

"You don't go living with somebody forever just because you feel sorry for them."

In 19th century Kansas, Dave Connors (Cornel Wilde) lives in the town of Jericho with his unhappy, tippling wife, Belle (Ann Dvorak). His old friend, Tucker Wedge (Kirk Douglas), who owns the town newspaper, is pressured into going into politics by his ambitious wife, Algeria (Linda Darnell), when she discovers Connors has similar ambitions and that she is attracted to him. An added complication is that childhood acquaintance, Julia (Anne Baxter), is now a grown lady lawyer who has developed a passion for Dave and vice versa. It all comes to a head when Dave and Tucker run for the same Senatorial seat, and a young lady named Marjorie (Colleen Townsend) is arrested for murder ... With this cast you might wonder why you've probably never heard of The Walls of Jericho and the answer is that the movie just isn't very good. It holds the attention, there's some decent acting and then some, but despite a couple of climaxes and anti-climaxes, it never quite comes to a full boil or distinguishes itself. Handsome Wilde [The Naked Prey] is as appealing and professional as ever; Baxter is overwrought but effective; Darnell [Day-Time Wife] makes an impression as a simmering small-town Lady MacBeth; and Kirk Douglas is most impressive of all in his fine turn as an essentially decent man overruled by his man-eating wife. Dvorak has one big scene but is otherwise criminally under-utilized in the picture. Barton MacLane, Henry Hull and Marjorie Rambeau have smaller roles and all acquit themselves nicely. Colleen Townsend [When Willie Comes Marching Home] had only a few credits but is fine.

Verdict: Small scale small-town melodrama with a highly interesting and often adept cast. **1/2.


Gary R. said...

I assume you meant to describe Ann Dvorak's character as a "tippling" wife. According to the online Urban Dictionary, the slang word "tibbling" means something else again!

William said...

You can say that again! But who knows -- maybe she liked tibbling as well as tippling, LOL!

Thanks for the heads up -- I've changed the word.