Cinema: Belle Wringer

This Property Is Condemned begins and ends with excerpts from a fragile one-act play by Tennessee Williams. Its heroine, a waif named Willie, picks her way along the railroad tracks in a desolate Mississippi town, carrying "a banged-up doll and a piece of a rotten banana." Brazenly recounting her hardships to a neighborhood lad, Willie on screen (Mary Badham, the perky tomboy of To Kill a Mockingbird) is still affecting as she sashays through a world of half-truths and childish fantasy in her dead sister Alva's tattered finery.

What condemns This Properly is a plot tacked on by three zealous screen writers,...