Friday, April 29, 2011

Going postal

When Ted Turner acquired what became the "Turner library" of movies it only included movies from Warner Bros. up until the late 1940s, as the later movies had been packaged differently for TV showings. Even though the rights to all the movies are now owned by one or another branch of the megacorporation that also owns TCM, the movie channel has historically not been showing all that many of the Warner Bros. movies from after 1950. Thankfully, that's been changing over the past year or more, with some interesting (and some not so good) later movies from the studio winding up on TCM. Another such movie got one airing last month and another this month: Dear Heart, which airs this afternoon at 4:00 PM ET.

Glenn Ford plays Harry, a salesman who's checking in at a New York hotel for what will probably be the last time: he's about to marry a widow with a son who will be moving to New York with him and getting an apartment. Harry is met at the airport by a too-nice young man who seems a bit too eager to help Harry. It turns out that young man (Michael Anderson) is Patrick, the son of the woman Harry will be marrying. Harry thought the kid was younger, but that's because his fiancée has been showing Harry a very old photo; Patrick isn't 12 but a college student. Not only that, but he's really pleased about the upcoming wedding because he'll once again have the father he so desperately wants.

That's the first sign things might not be going so well for Harry, but there's more trouble to come. Also checking in to the hotel is Evie (Geraldine Page), a postmistress from out in the sticks. She's in town for a postmasters' convention, and she's got just as many problems as Patrick. Evie's a spinster, and it's fairly clear why, as she's a bit nutty and as needy as Patrick. She likes to have herself paged, and lets the bellboys page her for a good 20 minutes or more, just because she thinks it will make everybody else think this Evie woman is important. She meets Harry and you know she's going to fall for him just because she needs any man.

Cynics would think that the obvious solution would be for Evie to pair up with Patrick, let him develop a Norman Bates type complex, and Harry and his fiancée Phyllis (Angela Lansbury, who only shows up for the last 20 minutes or so) can go and live happily ever after. But pretty quickly, you know that the movie is going to head in the direction that long-time bachelor Harry is likelier to end up with the long-time spinster Evie. Will that actually happen? If so, how will the conflict resolve itself? After all, Hary would have to break off an engagement to be with Evie. Dear Heart is one of those movies that's for grown-ups, but in a good way. There's not a whole lot of material that parents might find objectionable; instead, it's the sort of material that's handled with the sort of intelligent sensibility and slower pacing that would make children find the material boring boring boring. Glenn Ford is fine here as the sturdy lead actor, while everybody else around him is screwed up to greater or lesser degrees. Page's Evie is really irritating at first, but if you can get over that the movie is really a pretty good one.

Dear Heart is one of those "little" movies that's been all-too forgotten, which is a shame. It hasn't been released to DVD either, so it's TCM or nothing if you want to see it.

No comments: