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

Thursday, April 12, 2018


Jeanne Crain and Frank Latimore
IN THE MEANTIME, DARLING (1944). Produced and directed by Otto Preminger.

Maggie (Jeanne Crain of State Fair) is a somewhat spoiled, upper-class gal who arrives at a seedy hotel off base to marry Lt. Daniel Ferguson (Frank Latimore). Maggie loves Danny, but she is dismayed by the lack of privacy and living conditions in the hotel, which is run by the widow Armstrong (Jane Randolph), whose husband was killed overseas. Maggie tries to pitch in with the other gals but finds she has little training for anything. Then Danny mistakenly believes that Maggie has gotten pregnant ... In the Meantime, Darling is a minor but still significant film that looks at the problems of women who every day have to face the fact that their husbands may go off to war and never come back, and there is an air of poignancy and sorrow because of it. There is an especially lovely and sobering scene when Maggie goes into Mrs. Armstrong's apartment and sees the wedding pictures and other photos, then comes upon the announcement of her husband's posthumous awards from the Army. Crain and Latimore both give excellent performances as the lead couple, and there is nice work from Gail Robbins [The Fuller Brush Girl] as another wife named Shirley. (One can't realistically imagine this marriage lasting, however, as Shirley's husband, Phil, played by Stanley Prager, is not only fat and homely but rather insensitive to his wife's needs as well.) Clarence Muse is also notable as Henry, the black porter for the hotel, who does not play in a subservient fashion and whose character's son is also in the Army overseas. Henry is treated as a three-dimensional African-American character, a rarity in this time period. Other cast members include Eugene Pallette, Mary Nash (as an especially disagreeable mother-in-law), Olin Howland, Elisabeth Risdon, Glenn Langan, and even Blake Edwards in the acting phase of his career in an uncredited bit. This was the first picture for Latimore, who also appeared in 13 Rue Madeleine with James Cagney, Shock with Vincent Price, and ultimately amassed 70 credits.

Verdict: Warm and sentimental in the right way, and very well-performed. ***.


angelman66 said...

Preminger was one of the great directors, apparently difficult to work with according to many, but a real cinematic artist who got great performances out of his stars. Need to see this one again soon.

William said...

He did indeed get excellent performances from the leads here. Yes, I heard he was tyrannical, but it could also be that he insisted on getting the best from actors who just wanted to coast -- who knows?