Come Back, Little Sheba (1952)

Come Back. Little Sheba4177__come_back,_little_sheba_(1952)movie_
Directed by Daniel Mann
Written by Ketti Frings from the play by William Inge
1952/USA
Paramount Pictures
First viewing/You Tube

Doc Delaney: Alcoholics are mostly disappointed men.

Lola Delaney: Sure, I know. [pause] You was never disappointed, were you, Doc?

Shirley Booth is so entirely her character that she breaks your heart.

Lola Delaney (Booth) is one of those women that drives people nuts.  She can’t stop talking and aims way too hard to please.  While alone, she lives in a dream world of romance and music and her brief past as a pretty high school girl.  She stays in her nightclothes way into day and never quite gets around to any housekeeping or cooking. Beneath all of this it is clear that Lola is deeply, tragically lonely.  Her only true friend was apparently Sheba, a dog that ran away weeks or months ago that she continues to call.

Lola is married to Doc Delaney (Burt Lancaster), a recovering alcoholic.  He has somehow won back some of his chiropractic patients.  He spends as much time as possible at work or doing Twelfth Step work in AA.  He is always pleasant to Lola but you can tell that he finds it hard to tolerate her prattling.  He is also seething with resentment.  He was going to a prestigious medical school when he impregnated Lola.  Marrying her meant dropping out.  Then they lost the baby. As for Lola, her strict father has not forgiven her to this day.

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Lola decides to rent a room in house.  The first applicant is a pretty young college student, Marie (Terry Moore).  She ends up taking a downstairs room that she can also use as a studio for her art work.  Terry is an incorrigible flirt and has Doc in her power from day one. Although she is engaged to a boy back home, she is dating a star athlete who spends the entire film trying to get into her pants.  Lola sees this as romantic and spies on their trysts. Doc definitely does not approve and finally breaks under the strain.

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This is a movie to watch for the acting.  Lancaster is cast against type, presumably to add star appeal at the box office, but does well in his role.  Booth, who played the part on Broadway, is the soul of the film. Recommended.

A note about the YouTube version I watched: The print quality was very poor and the film was interrupted by ads at least every ten minutes.  The ads could be switched off after five seconds but it was still a distraction.  There is a version in English with Greek subtitles that looks somewhat better and has no ads.

Shirley Booth won the Oscar for Best Actress.  The film was nominated in the categories of Best Supporting Actress (Moore) and Best Film Editing.

Trailer

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