Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Brief Encounter in Appalachia

Another of the movies that I recently had the chance to watch off of my DVR was the intriguingly cast A Walk in the Spring Rain. The result is, well, interesting.

Ingrid Bergman plays Libby Meredith, a housewife married to New York law professor Roger (Fritz Weaver), with an adult daughter in Ellen (Katherine Crawford) who has a son of her own. Roger wants to write a book on constitutional law, so he's taking a sabbatical, which is no big thing. But he's decided to get away from it all, by renting an isolated farmhouse in the Smoky Mountains region of Tennessee. Libby follows Roger down there in the middle of winter.

When they get there, the couple find that they're renting from a farm couple, the very traditionally southern Ann Cade (Virginia Gregg), and her husband Will (Anthony Quinn). Half the fun of the movie is watching Anthony Quinn's terrible southern accent come and go. If the role had been written as an immigrant father, a la Edward G. Robinson in Our Vines Have Tender Grapes, that would be one thing. But a southern farmer Anthony Quinn most decidedly is not.

It takes all of about two seconds to realize that Will Cade and Libby Meredith have the hots for each other. Like, they'd be in bed right now if they weren't already married to other people and a Hollywood screenplay of that era could have the two of them naked in the same bed. But that's not the case, so instead we have to see the passion build, getting about as far as some kisses. Will shows Libby all of the things you can't find in New York City, and she really takes a shining to them. Roger tends to stay behind to work on his book.

Ah, but Will has an adult (Tom Holland, credited as Tom Fielding), who's just as passionate as Dad is. Eventually, he too starts having feelings for Libby. The outside world is also coming back to the Merediths, as Ellen has been accepted into Harvard Law School which means doing both that and taking care of a young child is going to be difficult. Perhaps this is the sort of thing grandmas are for.

A Walk in the Spring Rain is a movie that's really pretty to look at. A lot of the filming was done on location in Tennessee, and there's even an acknowledgement in the closing credits about having been given permission to shoot in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It's just too bad that the plot couldn't be as nice as the cinematography. Ingrid Bergman is all wrong as Fritz Weaver's wife, while as I said earlier, Anthony Quinn is not a southern farmer. The climax doesn't work, and the movie ends abruptly, as if the writers didn't know how to resolve things. And there's that awful theme song.

So while it's interesting to see Anthony Quinn and Ingrid Bergman back together six years after The Visit, the rest of the movie is a mess, with the possible exception of Virginia Gregg, who does a fine job with what she's given, although her traditionalness is turned up to 11.

A Walk in the Spring Rain did get a DVD release, I believe on Sony/Columbia's MOD scheme.

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