Ruth Goetz

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Carrie (1952) Review


Very Good
The people at the video store hadn't heard of this movie, naturally confusing it with Brian De Palma's hyperkinetic horror classic Carrie. They should know better. William Wyler's 1952 film is an intense, visual retelling of Theodore Dreiser's first novel Sister Carrie, a sprawling story of a "kept woman" in turn-of -the-century America and how she rises from shy country girl to big-city diva in spite of, or because of, what was then called "moral transgressions." Considered controversial, if not indecent, when Dreiser wrote it in 1900, its publication was delayed for over a decade.

Wyler (who died in 1981) was a master of hybrid movie-making, transforming one masterpiece novel and one serious play after another, into stylized, highly cinematic pictures that made audiences forget they were watching adaptations. His Wuthering Heights may not be true Bronte, but audiences in 1939 cried over Heathcliff and Kathy as if they were Romeo and Juliet; in These Three, he fashioned Lillian Hellman's play The Children's Hour in ways that made a lesbian couple acceptable on screen in 1936; and any one who's seen The Heiress, his version of Washington Square by Henry James, will never forget Olivia de Havilland's haunting portrayal of the lonely, angry, ugly-duckling daughter of a rich and powerful physician. Then there's always Ben-Hur.

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