Saturday, October 16, 2010

Tonight's Movie: Mother Didn't Tell Me (1950)

MOTHER DIDN'T TELL ME, the tale of a woman's struggle to adapt to being a doctor's wife, is both mildly amusing and frequently irritating.

Jane Morgan (Dorothy McGuire) falls head over heels for her new doctor, Bill Wright (William Lundigan). They quickly marry, and Jane suddenly has to contend with a schedule constantly interrupted by medical calls, a mother-in-law (Jessie Royce Landis) who thinks her son married the wrong woman, and eventually, twins!

Lundigan and McGuire have a cute courtship, and the film's basic premise is fun. However, as Bosley Crowther noted in his 1950 review, most of the characters act like dopes at one time or another, whether it's Jane trying to participate in doctors' medical chitchat, her husband buying a house sight unseen, his mother trying to break up their marriage, or other doctors' wives tearing Jane down instead of offering support.

The lone doctor's wife in Bill's circle offering Jane real friendship is Maggie (June Havoc), who is married to Bill's friend Dr. Pete Roberts (Gary Merrill, almost wasted in just a few scenes). A scene where other doctors' wives counsel Jane not to bother her pretty little head with the men's talk of their work must have seemed sexist even six decades ago! Since their husbands are never home, Jane and Maggie decide the solution is having babies -- then Jane is annoyed when her husband doesn't spend much time with the children.

Because I enjoy the cast, I found it pleasant viewing, despite regularly feeling like all of the characters needed to have some sense knocked into them. It's one of those movies that's good company and interesting to watch, even when one is regularly critiquing the characters' choices.

Blink and you'll miss Frank Jenks in a bit role as a furniture mover. Larry Keating has a small role as a doctor. Reiko Sato is the somewhat dense student who is Jane's part-time maid. Leif Erickson has a silly role as a psychiatrist, and Joyce MacKenzie is a new doctor with romantic designs on Bill.

This film was written and directed by Claude Binyon. The screenplay was based on a novel by Mary Bard.

It was shot in black and white by Joseph LaShelle and runs 88 minutes.

MOTHER DIDN'T TELL ME was recently shown on Fox Movie Channel so it's likely to turn up there again soon.

Update: For another take on this film, be sure to check out Moira's diverting and informative review at Skeins of Thought. I was especially interested to learn that Mary Bard was the sister of Betty MacDonald (THE EGG AND I).

2012 Update: MOTHER DIDN'T TELL ME is now available on DVD-R from the Fox Cinema Archives.


Blogger Barb the Evil Genius said...

Totally unrelated to the movie, but since you have admired Tom Selleck's work as Jesse Stone, I wondered if you had heard about his new television show on CBS, Blue Bloods. I haven't watched, but I may start doing so.

6:28 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Barb! I have the first four BLUE BLOODS episodes sitting in my DVR -- I need to try it before I fall hopelessly behind. :) Let me know if you like it!

Best wishes,

10:21 AM  

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