Friday, April 6, 2012

Home Town Story (1951) "Vuelta a casa"

DIRECTOR Arthur Pierson
Jeffrey Lynn, Donald Crisp, Marjorie Reynolds, Alan Hale Jr., Marilyn Monroe, Barbara Brown, Melinda Plowman, Renny McEvoy, Glenn Tryon, Nelson Leigh

Overall, this feature is really only fair at best, but it does have some points of interest. The most common reason why it is still watched today is the appearance of Marilyn Monroe in one of her earlier movie roles, and in fact the cast as a whole features an unusual mix of performers. The story is also mildly interesting as a window into its era. The supporting cast almost makes it worth seeing by itself. How often do you see the combination of Marilyn Monroe, Donald Crisp, and Alan Hale, Jr. in the same movie? Monroe appears in several scenes, and although only one gives her any significant screen time, she does get the chance to command some attention. Hale is well-cast as the good-natured sidekick. Crisp's talent and experience keeps the last portion of the movie from coming apart. The lively Marjorie Reynolds is also in the cast, but her character doesn't give her many opportunities to show what she can do. The story line was overtly designed to accommodate the corporate backers of the movie, and now it is really only of interest as a look at some common perceptions of its day. The last part of the movie did have the potential for some fairly effective melodrama, but parts of it become rather labored, and it is mainly thanks to Crisp's restrained performance that it remains watchable. Jeffery Lynn is cast as the leading character, and while he has his moments, he does not really have the range to make a routine story like this work effectively. He does not make his character very likable or interesting, and as a result his character's perspective is largely trivialized. That plus the rather routine script make it a largely unmemorable movie, aside from the curiosity factor that it offers.

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