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Producer Nichols disagrees: "I think they'll accept it. It'll be a road show with Theatre Guild backing. It might even become a cultural 'must.' If notwell, sometimes our greatest [financial] failures give the films their greatest vitality."
Cass Timberlane (MGM) should refine the judgment of readers who did not like the Sinclair Lewis novel, but thought that it would make a good movie script, anyhow. It doesn't.
After expertly filleting the slender satiric backbone out of the book, M-G-M evidently expected to be left with some meaty, salable sentiment. What remains is a fatty mass of banality about a soap-operatic small-town judge (Spencer Tracy) who marries a girl (Lana Turner) young enough to be his daughter, and has trouble keeping her interested.
Out of a disastrous awe for the author of several better books (Main Street, Babbitt), the film has accentuated the banality with loving careas in an exchange between Tracy and Turner concerning wondrous Manhattan (She: "Gee! And to think they got all this from the Indians for only $24." He: "And a bottle of rum. Ha! Ha!")
Spencer Tracy understandably doesn't seem to believe in what he is doing. Lana Turner, according to the Hollywood grapevine, "emerges" as an actress in this picture. Some moviegoers may feel that she merely protrudes.
The Upturned Glass (Rank; Universal-International) symbolizes a frail human vessel, chipped with rough handling, which stands upturned and jagged in the midst of life. The vessel in this case is a gifted, high-strung surgeon (James Mason), separated from his wife and in love with a married woman (Rosamond John). In order to avoid damage to her husband and daughter, they break off their affair. She promptly jumps out of a window.
Or was she pushed? The distraught surgeon discovers that she was driven to suicide by a pickerel-hearted sister-in-law (Pamela Kellino). He then coldly lures sister-in-law into the dead woman's room and throws her out the same window. Next he packs the body into his car and hares off into the night and fog to dispose of it.
On the road he picks up another doctor, gets involved in an emergency case, stays to operate and (with loud scratching of pens on his heavenly balance sheet) saves a life for the one he has taken.
Confronted with the corpse he has neglected to hide, Dr. Mason protests: "It's justice." "It's paranoia," retorts his fellow doctor. Convinced that cracked vessels should be "thrown away" before they can do more harm, Dr. Mason jumps off a cliff.
All in all, the movie is a little too clever. The screen play, by Actress Kellino (Mrs. Mason offscreen) and John P. Monaghan, polishes a bright idea to the point of flashiness. The dialogue is excellent, the camera work imaginative, the cutting so rhythm-conscious that the film has a faintly singsong quality. The picture even shows good taste to a fault. In polite concern to grant the intelligence of moviegoers, Actor-Producer Mason has underplayed so drastically that his surgeon fails to exhibit enough intensity. As a result, the whole last reel of the film groans like a car trying to do 80 in low gear.