Friday, 15 November 2013

MARJORIE MORNINGSTAR (1958) WEB SITE

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  • Production Credits

  • Director - Irving Rapper
  • Screenplay - Everett Freeman
  • Source Material (from novel) - Herman Wouk
  • Producer - Milton Sperling
  • Assistant Director - Don Page
  • Director of Photography - Harry Stradling
  • Editor - Folmar Blangsted
  • Music - Max Steiner
  • Music - Sammy Fain
  • Orchestration - Murray Cutter

Cats Credits

  • Gene Kelly - Noel Airman
  • Natalie Wood - Marjorie
  • Claire Trevor - Rose
  • Ed Wynn - Uncle Samson
  • Everett Sloane - Arnold
  • Marty Milner - Wally
  • Carolyn Jones - Marsha
  • George Tobias - Greech
  • Martin Balsam - Dr David Harris
  • Jesse White - Lou Michaelson
  • Edd Byrnes - Sandy Lamm
  • Paul Picerni - Phillip Berman
  • Alan Reed - Puddles Podell
  • Ruta Lee - Imogene

Awards

Nomination
  • Best Song - Sammy Fain - 1958 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
  • Best Song - Paul Francis Webster - 1958 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
 
This is one of those movies to see over and over for certain memorable scenes, the hauntingly beautiful piece, A VERY SPECIAL LOVE, and for the novelty of watching Gene Kelly in a strictly dramatic role. But as for the treatment the film gives to the Herman Wouk novel, MARJORIE MORNINGSTAR experiences the usual celluloid plastic surgery and comes out an approximation of the 1950's best seller. For central to Wouk's fiction is the New York Jewish community and its effect on a young woman struggling with her own sexual identity. In short, what we get in the film is Natalie Wood, nascent and alluring, but resembling more a Beverly Hills rich girl than a Jewish American Princess.

MORNINGSTAR is undoubtedly Natalie Wood's maiden flight as a leading lady. REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE may have brought her to the public's attention, but MORNINGSTAR was the movie that launched her as a star and sent her career skyrocketing. The obvious parallel between the coming of age of Marjorie in the film and Natalie Wood as a leading lady cannot be ignored.

Noel Airman (Gene Kelly) is a shiftless romantic forever working on his musical PRINCESS JONES. He's more or less a drifter and supports himself in summertime by working as a dramatic director at a Jewish summertime resort in the Adirondacks where young girls are drawn to him like moths. It is there that he meets a very young and impressionable Marjorie. Her obsession with him begins immediately and the more irresponsible Airman behaves, the more deeply she is drawn into him. The Marjorie--Noel relationship is the movie's centerpiece as Marjorie simply refuses to see Airman as a deadbeat and supports his pipe dreams about a Broadway production. She even influences her best friend (Carolyn Jones) to get her boyfriend, well-connected Jesse White, to put financial backing together to produce Airman's play. The production flops, of course, because it's so romantically saccharine and Kelly finally realizes he's going nowhere. Taking to drink, he escapes to Europe and heartbroken Marjorie goes off after him.

Natalie Wood's performance as Marjorie Morningstar is superior and is performed with the same passion characteristic of almost every role she ever tackled. However, Kelly's performance as Noel Airman is, for the most part, superficial. It wasn't his first dramatic role by a long shot, for Kelly was always a fine actor in his own right and showed his talents in many of his musicals such as COVER GIRL and AN American IN Paris, but MARJORIE MORNINGSTAR was his first non-dancing dramatic effort.

Most of the others in the cast, with the exception of Carolyn Jones, Marjorie's common-sense best friend, come off as stereotypes. Ed Wynn hovers around Wood as the wise Uncle Sampson sprinkling common sense over Marjorie's romantic dizziness. Claire Trevor and Everette Sloan are Marjorie's uppity, bigoted Jewish parents who will tolerate nothing less than a wealthy husband for their daughter. Marty Balsam is a complete figurine playing Marjorie's wimpy suitor. But the most obtuse character in the film is Wally (Mary Milner), the struggling playwright who's been in love with Marjorie forever. Milner is portrayed as a Marjorie's shoulder to lean on lurking behind the scenes for years. Then in the bat of an eye, he's suddenly transformed into a successful Broadway playwright! The transition is laughable.

In the end, Marjorie matures and finally seees Noel as a self-destructive dreamer. She visits the old summer camp on the Adirondacks for one last time and looks on as Noel draws impressionable young girls into his web all over again. The sequence itself is very effective; however, the movie's very last scene in which Marjorie boards a bus and discovers a smiling Wally behind her in the rear view mirror now ready to step into her life big time is a bit much.

MORNINGSTAR works if you don't want to hold the script up to the light and just enjoy Wood and Kelly in a film. The theme song, A VERY SPECIAL LOVE, casts the appropriate mood over the summer camp atmosphere and, if nothing else, strikes a cord in all of us who ever had a nostalgic vacation romance.








NO ESTRENADA EN SALAS CINEMATOGRÁFICAS EN ESPAÑA
EMITIDA POR TVE COMO "ESTRELLA DE LA MAÑANA" (29-9-1989)
Marjorie Morningstar fue la protagonista de una novela de gran éxito de Herman Wouk. Convertida en película tenía grandes riesgos: condesar su apretado texto en poco más de dos horas de celuloide y los previsibles problemas de su tratamiento con la identificación de los personajes: la clase alta judía de Nueva York. Con estas limitaciones, hacer una película comercial era una dificultad añadida que condicionó sus resultados artísticos. Finalizado el rodaje de la cinta, el guionista Everett Freeman quiso retirar su nombre de los créditos "aunque no le dejaron" porque consideró que la película no reflejaba el espíritu de la novela y mucho menos las costumbres, entonces ocultas, de la clase judía. Los productores prefirieron central la historia en el mundo del espectáculo de Nueva York más que en el de los judíos acomodados. Natalie Wood compuso admirablemente su personaje, una chica que quiere rebelarse contra su entorno. Y Gene Kelly supo sacar un gran partido a un personaje inicialmente pensado para Danny Kaye. Para muchos críticos, Kelly compuso uno de los mejores personajes dramáticos de su carrera, de especial dificultad para él, ya que interpretaba a un "showman" mediocre, de segunda categoría. Aciertos parciales, un buen reparto y algún número musical son los alicientes de una película con poco que ver con el libro original. ÁNGEL COMAS.





 










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