Cinema: The New Pictures, Oct. 11, 1948

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(3 of 4)

When she gets to the villa in southern France, her mother-in-law (Lucille Watson) is insulting and the landed gent is embarrassed and disturbed (he's still in love with her). Only her daughter (Elizabeth Taylor), who sneaked mother the invitation, is thoroughly human. Julia misbehaves with a rounder (Nigel Bruce) in order to buy presents for the child; she also helps negotiate the girl out of the arms of her fiance into those of her true love (Peter Lawford). Finally Julia winds up in a mudhole, laughing her head off, in testimonial of love reborn, at Mr. Pidgeon.

This semi-farcical rehash of Madame X, etc. might have been an entertaining movie, but it is done without gaiety, irony, style or even simple fun. MGM, long the world's No. 1 star-polisher, has mishandled the stars in the show. Elizabeth Taylor, who is just beginning to move into grownup roles, is one of the loveliest girls in movies; but here she is made-up and hair-done and directed into tired, tiresome conventional prettiness. Miss Garson has beauty, vitality and professional know-how. These are all visible, yet the performance is almost never joyous or even convincing. It looks as if she herself is trying her level best to be everything that Metro has made of her, and nothing that she really is.

The whole idea of the picture seems to be that it will wow the fans to see Miss Garson in tights, floundering in the mud, playing at comedy. But it is no news that Greer Garson has good legs (vide Random Harvest), or that she is a skillful comedienne (vide Valley of Decision); nor is it particularly funny to see dignity, whether real or superimposed, mucked up.

For the Love of Mary (Universal-International) is a plot-heavy little picture with a deceptively simple beginning. Mary (Deanna Durbin), a telephone operator, has just moved from the Supreme Court switchboard to the White House switchboard. This is construed as a promotion. She immediately gets chummy with the President; he gets chummy right back.

Mary is engaged to a young attorney (Jeffrey Lynn) who is the pet of the Supreme Court. But she doesn't want to marry him, and she hates the way he calls her up during working hours. She is also carrying on a sort of wry flirtation with an aggressive ichthyologist (Don Taylor), who is trying, with no help from her, to put through a personal phone call direct to the President. So she stands both of them up in order to keep a date with a Navy lieutenant (Edmond O'Brien), who is the pet of the White House. However, the lieutenant is nominally engaged to the daughter of a newspaper publisher who could, it seems, make or break the Administration; and the ichthyologist owns a Pacific island on which the U.S. Navy has illegally made expensive installations. From there on, the plot begins to prove how intricate a plot can get; before it's over, practically all the brass and big-wiggery in Washington is standing helplessly on its ear—all, more or less, for the love of Mary.

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