Starring: PN, JW, Myrna Loy, Ina Balin, Leon Ames, Elizabeth Allen, Barbara Eden, George Grizzard, Patrick O'Neal, Felix Aylmer
Directed by: Mark Robson
Summary: From John O'Hara's novel, this is the long and rambling tale of Alfred Eaton (PN) and his personal struggle to overcome his father's shadow and find happiness in his own life. It begins in 1946, Alfred has returned from the war, to find his mother a drunk and his father continuing to tell him that he's nothing- (at least he can't measure up to Billy, a brother who died during childhood)- but still Alfred feels the need to prove himself, to spite his father. He sees Mary St. John (JW) at a party and even though she's engaged, feels the need to take her away from her fiance. A quick comment to his friend shows that Alfred is only after her as a challenge- but it is never mentioned again in the movie. Alfred tries to start an aviation company with friends but when success doesn't come as quickly as he wants, he finds another opportunity. At the expense of his marriage, Alfred works long hours and neglects Mary, so she turns to her former fiance for physical companionship. During one of his business trips to Pennsylvania, Alfred meets Natalie, the daughter of the owner of a coal mine, and he is instantly smitten with her simplicity and happiness. He finds in Natalie what he has been missing all his life, but is torn between it and what he has always known: personal struggle to one up his father. In the end, Alfred is able to break free from his demons, leave his cheating wife, the powerful lure of financial success and return to a new life with Natalie.
Quote: Mary: "I don't like that word 'forbid', father, it makes me want to disobey you."
The Newman Factor and Rating: Paul is stiff and confusing in this one. In the first third, when he is courting Mary, he gives the obligatory "best James Dean" but we all know, it's not him. PN is his own man, and even though he was often compared to Dean and Brando in his early days, he is always his own character. This performance seems forced into the "Dean mold". The story is long, and is vaguely reminiscent of Newman's earlier family epic works such as The Young Philadelphians. The difference here is we don't care about the story enough to stay interested. We're not supposed to fault Alfred for his infidelities because he wasn't loved enough as a child. I found myself wishing that there was more of Joanne's character in the 2nd half, since her infidelty was played for sport. The veiled sexual comments were entertaining, more so considering the film was made in 1960. I'm still trying to figure out what the heck the title means though. Film: 6. Newman: 5.