Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 8, No. 8 June 27, 1945
* * * * Melodrama
* * * * Melodrama
King's Row is a fine film, though I think few people up here will agree with me. It tries to be intelligent and honest, and succeeds very well. The story is an involved affair about sordid doings in an American small town at the turn of the century, and by and large things are a trifle gloomy. Robert Cummings, a handsome young man studying to be a doctor, discovers love with the daughter of his tutor, who, knowing her to be going gradually insane like her mother, shoots her and himself. Ronald Reagan, the local rake, wealthy too, makes a play for the other doctor's daughter. Well, poor Mr. Reagan loses all his money, and is ordered out. He gets a job on the railroad, has an accident, and his ex-love's father quite unnecessarily cuts off both his legs—straight he does, the old hound. While you are recovering, in comes Ann Sheridan, the town's Rad Girl, and tends him, and love blooms. Mr. Cummings returns from Vienna where he has been studying the new psychiatry and discovers another girl, so one way and another the film has a moderately happy ending, but everybody goes through hell to get there.
Now, although this story might, seem quite incredible, you'll find the film has been directed and acted with such skill that you'll almost believe it. It retails, I suspect, In a slightly [unclear: exaggected] form, the brooding horrors that exist in small towns, and everyone makes a genuine attempt at a mature approach.
I'm keen about King's Row. It is daring enough not to follow the welltrod rond of meeting, quarrelling and making it up. The director and the cast have been sincere and frank about insanity, cruelty, and small town viciousness, and their attempt at honesty deserves much more consideration than the plain mis-statements of For Whom the Bell Tolls.
I found Robert Cummings a trifle too good to be true and Ronald Reagan definitely unconvincing. The "featured" players (as opposed to the "stars") are the makings of this film:—Maria Ouspenskaya. Claude Rains, Judith Anderson, and Charles Coburn could carry any film through, although in this case they are actually assisted to a considerable extent by the stars. There is also, in Kaaren Verne, about the most beautiful girl I have ever seen on the screen.
By the way, you needn't take any notice of the trailer or the advertising for King's Row. They mean even less than most advance publicity.