Kehr’s Weekly Recap: The Cobweb (1955)

The Cobweb (1955)

Vincente Minnelli‘s 1955 melodrama is set in a posh mental hospital; he choreographs the various plots and subplots with the same style and dynamism he brought to his famous musicals. Charles Boyer is the head of the clinic, a secret alcoholic worried about competition from hotshot young shrink Richard Widmark. Widmark, in turn, is caught in a triangle with his childish wife (Gloria Grahame) and an understanding colleague (Lauren Bacall). Among the guest loonies are Oscar Levant (who sings “Mother” in a straitjacket), Lillian Gish, Susan Strasberg, Fay Wray, John Kerr, Paul Stewart, and Adele Jergens; John Houseman produced. 124 min.

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Kehr Capsule of the Week: Cheyenne Autumn (1964)

This late film (1964) by John Ford came more from the head than the heart: it tries to do for the Cheyenne tribe’s forced migration from Oklahoma to Wyoming what The Grapes of Wrath did for the Okies’ drive west, and the social message squeezes out the drama. The movie is no disgrace, but it has the feeling of a forced march itself. Ford returns to the Tombstone of My Darling Clementine for another look at Wyatt Earp, now played by James Stewart in a strange, satirical turn. You can feel the Fordian myths beginning to crumble, but they wouldn’t collapse until 7 Women (1966)—Ford’s final and most bitter film. With Richard Widmark, Carroll Baker, and Karl Malden. 145 min.