Sunday, November 25, 2018

Tonight's Movie: Teresa (1951) - A Warner Archive DVD Review

This seems to be the weekend for Warner Archive releases with one-name titles! I followed up last night's Lana Turner film DIANE (1956) with TERESA (1951), starring Pier Angeli.

The films have more in common than one-word titles: Angeli, the star of TERESA, was the twin sister of Marisa Pavan, who played Catherine de Medici in DIANE. Additionally, both films are about women who give strength and encouragement to men who are dealing with emotional struggles.

In a story told mostly in flashback, Philip Cass (John Ericson) meets young Teresa (Angeli) while he's serving in Italy during World War II. They marry, but after a blissful honeymoon are separated when Philip is sent stateside.

Teresa eventually receives her boat ticket to join her husband in New York, where challenges await: The insecure Philip -- who had emotional issues during his service -- suffers from both PTSD and "mommy" issues and has trouble finding a job which will allow the couple to move out of his family's apartment.

The need for a fresh start becomes critical as Teresa realizes the depth of Philip's unhealthy relationship with his mother (Patricia Collinge) -- and gets the news she's expecting a baby.

As one might expect with that description, the film is fairly somber; Philip is a frustrating character in that he rejects needed help which would allow him to try to move forward. (Look for Rod Steiger, effective in a small role as a VA psychiatrist.)

The film is worth seeing as long as Angeli is onscreen; she's incandescent, and her character is believably wise beyond her years as she navigates first marriage and then dealing with life -- and a possessive mother-in-law -- in a new country.

Though much of the film is rather dreary, between the storyline and the settings -- a village filled with rubble, a run-down tenement -- there are individual moments of great beauty. The wedding on a windswept hill at the ruins of a bombed-out church is quite memorable, especially given realistic little touches such as one of Philip's friends snapping a photo at the altar. (As it happens, Philip is so frightened to tell his mother he's a married man that she only finds out thanks to this photo!) The sequence where war brides disembark from their ship and have their names called out one by one, as they reunite with their husbands, is also particularly well-done and interesting.

It's not a cheery film, but after 102 minutes it ends on a hopeful note, and all in all the film is worth seeing for the 18-year-old Angeli and some effective staging by director Fred Zinnemann. The movie was filmed in black and white by William Miller.

The supporting cast including Richard Bishop, Peggy Ann Garner, Edward Binns, Bill Mauldin, and Ralph Meeker.

The Warner Archive DVD print is noticeably scratched in some scenes, but there are no skips and the soundtrack is solid. The DVD includes the trailer.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this DVD. Warner Archive releases are MOD (manufactured on demand) and may be ordered from the Warner Archive Collection at the WBShop or from any online retailers where DVDs and Blu-rays are sold.

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