Mirror Image Edutainment, Alan John Mayer
This is a masterfully crafted film production of the William Inge play of the same name, The Dark @ The Top of the Stairs. The film is directed by Delbert Mann, (at a date unknown to me as there was none on the copy I viewed), with a superbly timed musical score by Max Steiner. The Dark at the Top of the Stairs is a chronicle of a few days in the lives of the Flood family in 1912, as portrayed by a sparkling cast of characters.
There is the father, Ruben,
obedient wife Cora,
debutante wallflower Reenie,
and repressed son Sonny,
who all live in Oklahoma.
The word craftsmanship comes to mind when I think of this masterfully orchestrated film. The screenplay, direction, lighting, and musical score alone make this film worth watching. The characters were all properly introduced, and their relationships were reaffirmed in dialogue, something I found delightful, absorbing.
Robert Preston plays Ruben Flood, a man who has troubles by the score, and he plays honestly, and with dignity.
Dorothy McGuire plays a charming Cora, the ideal loving wife, and mother.
The kids are just there, among a gang of well cast friends.
Eve Arden plays Cora’s sister, Lottie, the emancipated wife of a dentist, in a superb performance. Lottie is believable, convincing, and charming. Even then, Eve Arden knew just which muscle to twitch to say a volume of words.
Until recently, I had seen her in little more than an episode of I Love Lucy (at the Brown Derby restaurant), and watched her in the late 60’s comedy, The Mothers In-Law, in which she was cast opposite Kaye Ballard. I watched only because I found her voice captivating, (not Kaye Ballard) then as it was some twenty years earlier in this magnificent film.
Angela Lansbury, Shirley Knight, and others head a sparkling cast of brilliant performances. Though I have watched the movie twice, I still have not recognized Angela Lansbury, with whom I share the connection of having sat on the same toilet in an early 20th Century movie mansion in South Pasadena.
For me, the best surprises of this film are
Eve Arden’s brilliant portrayal of Lottie,
and Dorothy McGuire’s superbly played Cora.
I, in my humble opinion, give this cinco de cinco estrellas:
The film is the prayer.
This is the film.
I am the cameraman of my own film.
I am the director, the producer, and the casting director.
I control the projector.
I accept this knowledge.
I give thanks for this knowledge.
I let it go.
I release it,
and I let God be.
And so it is.