The New Pictures, Aug. 27, 1945

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Uncle Harry (Universal) is a thriller, produced by Alfred Hitchcock's onetime secretary, Joan Harrison, whose murder thriller Phantom Lady (TIME, Feb. 24, 1944) established her as one of Hollywood's talented producers. Her second offering, a Broadway play adaptation, is again directed by able Robert Siodmak, and again features a vivid performance by Ella Raines. Uncle Harry is better done than its predecessor, more human, subtler, more exciting.

Harry (George Sanders) is the kind of man everybody likes and nobody quite respects—a man rendered permanently infantile by his own gentleness, by his family's standing in their small New England town, and above all by his bickering, manless sisters, the widow Hester (Moyna Macgill) and the semi-invalid Lettie (Geraldine Fitzgerald). Lettie in particular takes care that life shall never disturb him with a breath of fresh air.

When a strong cool blast of it (Ella Raines) wakes him up and threatens to make a man of him, everyone except Harry realizes that Sister Lettie's feelings about him exceed the sisterly. From there on the story is ever-crueler melodrama, culminating in a tacked-on ending which the audience is requested not to tell—presumably on the assumption that everybody has the right to feel sold out.

Despite its silly ending, Uncle Harry is worth seeing. Its hints of psychological incest, which are so arranged that you can take them or leave them, are even more interesting in their Hays Office aspects than as drama. The acutely recorded small-town characters and atmospheres, and the intense performances of all four principal players, are something more. Especially notable is Geraldine Fitzgerald's portrayal of the harboring sister—the first role in years which has given this actress opportunity to show more than a fraction of her worth.

Victim's Explanation. Watching her play minor roles in major films like Wilson, major roles in minor films like Shining Victory, discerning cinemaddicts have long been puzzled by Geraldine Fitzgerald's fourth-magnitude stardom.

Because this particular victim of Holly wood's wonderful ways happens to be 1) intelligent, 2) candid, 3) now free to talk — her long-term contract with Warner has just expired ("thank God") — Miss Fitzgerald has finally explained all. Any Hollywoodenhead would insist that it was entirely her own fault, and, in a measure, she would cheerfully agree.

The trouble started in the rush of her first success when Dark Victory and Wuthering Heights made it clear that she would soon become a major star. David Selznick wanted her for the title role in Hitchcock's smash Rebecca, but she turned it down. She was under contract to Warner for half of each year; if she worked for Selznick, he would own the other half. She preferred to spend it with her husband, in Ireland. That sort of independence is neither admired nor understood in Hollywood. It didn't exactly enhance her stock, either, when she returned from Ireland pregnant.

She began getting second-grade, left over and plain trash roles. She was done out of a long-promised chance to play Emily Brontë. She went to Broadway and enjoyed herself thoroughly in a play by Irwin Shaw (Sons and Soldiers). The fact that it flopped sent her Hollywood stock still lower.

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