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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Video Beaverhausen: Storm Center starring Bette Davis

As I still recover from my recent surgery at home, I have plenty of time for one of my favorite things: watching classic movies at home. Storm Center, released on dvd by Columbia Pictures, is as relevant today as it was on its release date (1956). Its theme is about liberty and democracy in the United States and the threat of political witch hunts and hysteria.

The film was made during the era of the McCarthy hearings and the fear of "the Communist menace." Many careers were ruined by these Senate interrogations.

And so, many big-name actresses (Katherine Hepburn, Barbara Stanwyck to name just two) were dissuaded from taking on the role of the widowed librarian in Storm Center. They were told it would ruin their careers and that they'd never work again. Powerful Hollywood columnist Hedda Hopper threatened to personally see to that. Bette Davis, however, strode into the role bravely.

Unfortunately, the film is directed ineptly. The film plods along with no particular visual or directorial syle, and its message comes across as pedantic and heavy-handed as a result, though a few brilliant moments briefly liven things up. Good performances by Brian Keith and Kim Hunter help keep up our interest. Edward Platt (Get Smart) and Kathryn Grant (Crosby) are also in this in smaller roles.

In the final analysis, Bette Davis puts this across with yet another vivid motion picture portrayal. The theme, as I pointed out, is sadly still relevant. And, despite being seriously flawed, it has its virtues. Worth watching but you probably won't opt to see this more than once.

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