Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA, 1957. Twentieth Century Fox. Screenplay by Michael V. Gazzo, Alfred Hayes, Carl Foreman, based on the play by Michael V. Gazzo. Cinematography by Joseph MacDonald. Produced by Buddy Adler. Music by Bernard Herrmann. Production Design by Leland Fuller, Lyle R. Wheeler. Costume Design by Mary Wills. Film Editing by Dorothy Spencer. Academy Awards 1957. Golden Globe Awards 1957.
Fred Zinnemann breaks into Elia Kazan territory with this moving adaptation of Michael V. Gazzo’s play, adding to its mostly stagy settings with a few outdoor scenes looking to recreate the world of On The Waterfront right down to the inclusion of Eva Marie Saint. She lives in her Brooklyn apartment with her husband (Don Murray) and brother-in-law (an excellent Anthony Franciosa) and is suffering the tension caused by the fact that her crumbling marriage is pushing her into Franciosa’s arms. The situation explodes with the visit of her father in law (Lloyd Nolan), who has come to ask Franciosa for money that he was promised for a business venture, but is now told it has all been spent; what only Franciosa knows is that Korea vet Murray came out of his gruesome experience as a prisoner of war with an addiction to morphine that has gone through everyone’s savings and is the reason he can’t keep a job and stays out all night. The dramatic exchanges that result are par for the course of fifties melodramas, a lot of suffering over kitchen sinks in broad New Yawk accents, but Zinnemann has no patience for the kind of actory indulgences that Kazan loved, and the melodramatic anguish is kept well in line. The performances shine as a result of the director’s old-school Hollywood narrative control, particularly in the case of Franciosa’s recreation of his Tony Award-winning role; it’s an injustice to his talent and presence that he is not as well remembered as his more famous Actors Studio contemporaries.