Monday, June 19, 2017

The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds

The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds ~ This is one of those films I have very distinct memories of as a kid.  When I first got my own black and white TV in my bedroom I became addicted to late night television, especially older movies, and one of my regular fixes was WPVI channel 6 in Philadelphia's Friday night Million Dollar Movie.  And as this film was not available to home video for years, that was the only place to see it. 

When I saw it recently on TCM I was actually shocked that it wasn't a black and white movie.  That wouldn't have been odd as other movies of the time had tried black and white as an arty or attention getting stunt.  This film however had no need of such hype.  As an adaption of a Pulitzer Prize winning play directed and produced by Paul Newman and starring his wife Joanne Woodward, it was already high profile, and is an amazing film. 

Woodward plays a widow raising two very different daughters, and her performance is gritty and realistic, however the real stars are the actresses who play the daughters. The role of epileptic Ruth is Roberta Wallach, daughter of actor Eli, and intelligent and shy Matilda is the daughter of Woodward and Newman, Nell Potts, is simply stunning in the role. I am still amazed Potts didn't go on to a more promising film career. 

The long and awkward title comes from the experiment Matilda puts together for school that sets her apart, and might get her out of her situation.  Ruth seems to be walking in her mom's footsteps but Matilda could have a chance to elevate herself.  The experiment parallels her growth as a person. 

Highlighted by not only the performances but also by a wonderful score by Maurice Jarre, the film which might seem like a depressing study of late sixties small town white trash is compelling and addictive, with smart dialogue.  I love this movie, not just a great film, but a great memory as well.  Must see. 

No comments:

Post a Comment