Sunday, July 01, 2007

Tonight's Movie: I Want You (1951)

I WANT YOU is a moving portrait of the impact of the start of the Korean War on a family still adjusting to life after World War II.

Martin Greer (Dana Andrews) is a World War II veteran who is now happily settled down. Martin and his wife Nancy (Dorothy McGuire) finally have their own home, they have two small children, and the family construction business which Martin shares with his father (Robert Keith) is starting to do well.

Then Martin's kid brother Jack (Farley Granger) is drafted, and Martin starts to question where his own responsibilities lie -- working in his family's "essential business," or rejoining the military and building air strips, using the skills he learned during WWII.

Leonard Maltin, in his three-star review, describes the film as "dated yet still artifact of its era, with fine performances all around." I certainly agree about the performances and the film being touching, but I actually don't agree that it seemed particularly dated, though perhaps that was more accurate at the time Maltin wrote the review. Given the current state of the world, the theme of families coping as men step up to the plate to keep the world safe still has resonance. The ambivalent feelings of some toward both the Korean "conflict" and the current war in Iraq also ties the themes of I WANT YOU closely to modern politics and life.

The cast is first-rate. Dana Andrews is always quietly affecting in his films, never more so than in this film's final sequence as he puts his four-year-old daughter to bed. Dorothy McGuire is understated as his wife, who feels they have already "paid their dues" and now wants to enjoy the life they are building together.

Mildred Dunnock, who plays Martin and Jack's mother, re-created her Broadway role from DEATH OF A SALESMAN the same year I WANT YOU was released; DEATH OF A SALESMAN brought her an Oscar nomination. She is touching in I WANT YOU as a mother who has already lost a son, Martin and Jack's brother, to war and finds herself coping once again with the fear of potential loss.

Ray Collins, Jim Backus, and Martin Milner also appear in the film; Milner's wet-behind-the-ears young Army private is a far cry from his role as the assured veteran cop of TV's ADAM-12 (1968).

Peggy Dow, who plays Jack's sophisticated girlfriend, Carrie, retired from films after making I WANT YOU. She had a brief, successful career, making nine films between 1949 and 1951, including HARVEY, BRIGHT VICTORY, and some film noir titles. She retired for marriage and motherhood, raising five sons in Oklahoma. According to IMDb, she has now been married for 56 years.

I WANT YOU runs 102 minutes and was filmed in black and white. It was directed by Mark Robson, a British-born director whose best-known films include MY FOOLISH HEART, THE BRIDGES AT TOKO-RI, and PEYTON PLACE. The film was produced by Samuel Goldwyn, who saw the film as a follow-up to his classic THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES.

I WANT YOU has been released on VHS.

This film can also be seen on Turner Classic Movies.

I WANT YOU is an absorbing film examining love and duty toward family and country, themes which are as significant today as they were when the film was released in 1951.


Blogger barrylane said...

Just a great picture, not at all dated in anything related directly to Dana's character, but I thought Farley and Peggy were passe even for the time, although she, like Dana and Dorothy McGuire, is transcendent.

10:45 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I need to rewatch this one soon!

Best wishes,

8:17 PM  

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