DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
GOODBYE, MY FANCY (director: Vincent Sherman; screenwriter: Ben Roberts/Ivan Goff /based on a play by Fay Kanin; cinematographer: Ted McCord; editor: Rudi Fehr; music: Ray Heindorf ; cast: Joan Crawford (Agatha Reed), Robert Young (Doctor James Merrill), Frank Lovejoy (Matt Cole), Eve Arden (Woody), Janice Rule (Virginia Merrill), Lurene Tuttle (Ellen Griswold), Howard St. John (Claude Griswold), Viola Roache (Miss Shackelford), Ellen Corby (Miss Birdshaw), Morgan Farley (Doctor Pitt), John Qualen (Professor Dingley); Runtime: 109; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Henry Blanke; Warner Bros.; 1951)

 
"Outdated, tepid and stagy romantic drama."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz 

Outdated, tepid and stagy romantic drama, that's based on a Broadway play by Fay Kanin (which starred Madeleine Carroll). It's written by Ben Roberts and Ivan Goff, and directed in a workmanlike manner by Vincent Sherman ("The Garment Jungle"/"Ice Palace"/"Saturday's Children"). It stars the 46-year-old Joan Crawford, the superstar who leaves behind recent roles as a neurotic in twisted dramas to play the respectable woman protagonist looking for a love connection. It also touches base as a political film, that makes a case against unwarranted censorship in college education. The 19-year-old Janice Rule makes her film debut, and supposedly drew the wrath on the set of a jealous Crawford who mocked her for missing her chalk marks while secretly envying her youthful beauty.

Aggressive Congresswoman Agatha Reed (Joan Crawford) accepts an invitation from college president, Dr.James Merrill (Robert Young), to receive an honorary degree from Good Hope college in Massachusetts, at their weekend commencement. The women's college expelled her 17 years ago, in 1934, when she was caught staying out all night and refused to reveal it was with her then history professor James Merrill. Careerist Reed eagerly accepts, hoping to rekindle the relationship with the now widower college president whose daughter Ginnie (Janice Rule) is a graduating senior in the college and living in the same dorm room where Reed resided. Before politics, Reed was a columnist, war correspondent, and author. During her journalist days she had a love affair with the aggressive Matt Cole (Frank Lovejoy), a photo-journalist. But she ran out on him (still in love with Merrill) and has not seen him for a number of years until he suddenly shows up in Washington and in a pushy way begins courting the reluctant woman. The determined suitor Matt finagles his employer's at Life magazine to assign him to cover the college's award ceremony, which gives him a chance to chase after Reed. 

Reed is set to marry Merrill, but when he disappoints her and acts as a coward, afraid that the bully businessman chairman of the board, the film's villain, Claude Griswold (Howard St. John), will fire him if he doesn't do what he says. The milquetoast Merrill capitulates to his boss's demands and does not update the school's outdated curriculum and does not show the students the educational film Reed made from her journalist days comparing censorship to fascism. With that, Reed blackmails Merrill to show the film or else threatens to reveal he was her lover and cause for her expulsion.

Eve Arden played Reed's cynical secretary/confidante and provided her usual comical relief with sharp retorts.

The sophisticated political comedy, advancing the cause of liberalism and middle-age women in romantic lead roles, came across as shrill, with trite dialogue, unsympathetic leads and uninteresting performances. It just never hit the screen running, and is only tolerable for those who wish to see the old pro Crawford in action.

REVIEWED ON 4/26/2011       GRADE: C+

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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