Saturday, May 26, 2007

Tonight's Movie: The Tunnel of Love (1958)

THE TUNNEL OF LOVE purports to be a romantic comedy, but unfortunately it's more rancid than romantic.

Doris Day and Richard Widmark play a suburban Connecticut couple experiencing infertility and adoption. Their hopes to adopt are jeopardized when Widmark acts inappropriately in front of the adoption agency's social worker, and things go from bad to worse when Widmark's married neighbor (Gig Young) propositions the social worker. Due to another unfortunate incident, Widmark later harbors suspicions that he and the social worker are the true birth parents of the baby he and wife Day are adopting. Eventually there's a happy ending, but it's a labored effort to arrive at that point. (I just realized that's a bit of a pun, but the wording's appropriate!)

The dialogue is surprisingly frank for 1958, filled with conception-related talk such as charting temperatures and the "right time" to try for a baby. When discussing the adoption agency, Day perkily says, "They get some of the best babies, they're located right between Yale and Smith." (That one caused a mental double-take on my part.) There's a lot of drinking, infidelity, and negativity about parenting; Young plays a despicable first-class cad who's not only unfaithful, he hates his growing brood of children. The time Young is on screen -- which unfortunately is often -- makes for painful viewing.

I especially like both Day and Widmark, but in my opinion the material here simply isn't worthy of either of them. That the film is watchable at all is a tribute to two favorite actors.

The supporting cast includes Gia Scala as the social worker, Elisabeth Fraser as Young's ever-pregnant, oblivious wife, and Elizabeth Wilson in an amusing turn as another social worker, who can't seem to stop grinning.

This CinemaScope movie was filmed in black and white and runs 98 minutes. It was directed, believe it or not, by Gene Kelly.

THE TUNNEL OF LOVE is available on video. It next airs on Turner Classic Movies on August 11, 2007.

The trailer can be seen here.

January 2009 Update: THE TUNNEL OF LOVE is coming to DVD on April 7, 2009.

October 2017 Update: THE TUNNEL OF LOVE has been reissued on DVD by the Warner Archive.


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