All Fall Down (1962)

All Fall Down
Directed by John Frankenheimer
Written by William Inge from a novel by James Leo Herlihy
1962/USA
John Houseman Productions
First viewing/Amazon Instant

Berry-Berry Willart: How do you know I’m not some dangerous maniac that goes around killing beautiful women like you?

Mrs. Mandel: [Slight pause, then chuckles coyly] Well, in that case, I won’t have to take a sleeping pill tonight.

I took quite a liking to this black comedy/coming-of-age story, largely because of the wonderful cast and acting.

As the film begins, teenager Clint Willart (Brandon de Wilde) is taking a bus to Florida with $200 of his hard-earned cash to set up his idol, brother Berry-Berry (Warren Beatty), up in business.  When he gets there, he needs the money to bail his brother out of jail, where he has landed for beating up a stripper.  Berry-Berry is a babe-magnet who has no difficulty quickly landing a rich woman with the cash to finance him for the foreseeable future and send Clint back to his parents .

Clint returns to Ohio to his very odd household.  Every member shares a kind of hero-worship for old Berry-Berry.  But parents Ralph (Karl Malden) and Annabell (Angela Lansbury) are also deluded in many, many other ways.  Shortly, they receive a visit from the quirky old-maid daughter of one of Annabell’s friends, Echo O’Brien (Eva-Marie Saint). It is love at first sight for Clinton.

Unfortunately for everybody concerned, Berry-Berry decides to make it a brief family reunion for Christmas.  Inevitably, Echo falls for him – hard.

I was enjoying this just to watch Lansbury and Malden’s fun performances as the Willarts but it grew in depth toward the end until it captured my heart.  The main draw is the writing and characters, though.  They are unlike anything I have really seen before.  The movie looks beautiful too.  Recommended.

Trailer – this is a promotion for Beatty but he has far less screen time than de Wilde

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