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


Michael Craig
LIFE FOR RUTH (aka Walk in the Shadow/1962). Director: Basil Dearden.

"You put your personal faith before her welfare -- you let her die!

John Harris (Michael Craig) and his wife, Pat (Janet Munro), have an eight-year-old daughter named Ruth (Lynn Taylor). John has to rescue Ruth and a young friend when they go out on a boat in choppy waters to get the girl's ball. The boy is saved, but John is told that only a blood transfusion will save Ruth's life. John's religion, similar to Christian Science (although never named) is against transfusions and medical intervention and fears Ruth will be denied everlasting peace in the next world. Dr. Brown (Patrick McGoohan) is utterly appalled by Harris' attitude -- even Harris' wife eventually asks the doctor to do all he can to save Ruth but it's too late. Brown decides to see that Harris is prosecuted for his actions -- or lack of same -- and he is arrested on a charge of manslaughter under the "cruelty to children" act. Brown wants no more children to die because of simple-minded religious dogma so the whole thing will have to be resolved in a courtroom ... What makes the picture even more interesting is that Harris is not really portrayed as some kind of monster, but genuinely thinks he's doing the right thing, until he has a powerful epiphany in the courtroom. Michael Craig, who could play doctor playboys [Doctor in Love] and Civil War heroes [The Mysterious Island] with equal aplomb, proves his versatility yet again with his excellent portrayal of the simple yet tormented John Harris. Munro, McGoohan and the supporting cast, including Megs Jenkins as Pat's mother, are all excellent as well. Cinematography by Otto Heller [Richard III] and a score by William Alwyn [She Played with Fire] add to the film's quality.

Verdict: Powerful, well-acted, and completely absorbing. ***1/2.

No comments: