So, I was, originally, not going to participate in the Summer Under the Stars Blogathon. This is because I already signed up for three other blogathons that are scheduled for August. But, when I discovered that there would be prizes involved, I was in it to win it! Since I’m also a participant in Pure Entertainment Preservation Society’s A Month Without the Code Blogathon, I will be incorporating the films I review for the Summer Under the Stars blogathon into my roster for the aforementioned blogathon. That way, I can help the Brannan sisters promote their message and try my best to win Kristen and Samantha’s blogathon! When I was looking through Turner Classic Movies’ (TCM’s) roster of films, I came across the movie, I Never Sang for My Father. It’s one that I had heard of, but had never seen. Before seeing this film, I was not familiar with who Melvyn Douglas was as an actor. So, I did some research on TCM’s website. The first thing I noticed was that he was a Broadway actor prior to appearing in films. This made me wonder if any of his on-stage talents were carried over to the screen. Keep reading my review of 1970’s I Never Sang for My Father in order to find out!
Things I liked about the film:
The acting: As I’ve said in the introduction, I was not familiar with Melvyn Douglas before watching I Never Sang for My Father. This means that this is the first time I have ever seen him act. Despite this, I was very impressed with his performance in this film! His portrayal of Tom Garrison contained so much depth and emotion, that it was captivating to watch. He definitely stole the show in this movie! The other actors and actresses in I Never Sang for My Father brought a sense of realism to their performance, just like Melvyn did. One of them is Estelle Parsons, who portrays Gene’s sister, Alice. Whether it was the look in her eyes or the inflection of her voice, she always expressed her character’s concern and care with believability. Even though she wasn’t on screen for very long, she made a memorable impression with her performance!
Dynamics between the characters: Because every actor portrayed their characters with such realism, the interactions and dynamics between the characters were interesting to watch. Every time these characters communicated or spent time with each other, I always wondered what was about to happen next. That’s because it reflected how conversations, sometimes, work in real life. When it comes to interacting with someone, we can’t always predict how things will turn out. This was captured well in the film through the dynamics of the characters!
The messages and themes: Within this film, there were several messages and themes that are just as relevant today as they were in the early ‘70s. One of them was the care and well-being of elderly relatives. After their mother dies, Gene and Alice try to decide how to take care of their father. Several options are discussed, such as a live-in nurse and a nursing home. The way these ideas were expressed came across very realistically, like the situations themselves had come directly from real life. This made the interactions between the characters that much more interesting.
What I didn’t like about the film:
The run-time: I Never Sang for My Father has a run-time of one hour and thirty-two minutes. But the movie itself felt like it was two plus hours. This is because some scenes were drawn out longer than they needed to be. One example is when Tom Garrison reads a letter to his children. It seems like scenes like this one were as long as they were for the sake of satisfying the run-time. But it was already at a reasonable length of one hour and thirty-two minutes. Another aspect of the film that seemed to satisfy the run-time was unnecessary subplots. The part of the story about Gene’s affair really didn’t seem to lead anywhere. It made me think that the narrative would have improved if that part had been omitted.
Telling, but not showing: In almost any cinematic story, an effective way to persuade an audience is by verbally and visually presenting an idea. In I Never Sang for My Father, there were many cases where ideas about Tom Garrison were verbally expressed. However, there was no visual evidence to support these claims. When Gene stated that he was physically abused by his father, the behaviors and actions of Tom Garrison that were shown on-screen didn’t show him being physically abusive toward anyone. If anything, the things that were said about Tom sounded like hearsay that couldn’t always be taken seriously.
An over-exaggerated relationship: A significant part of this story is about the strained relationship between Tom and Gene Garrison. The film’s synopsis makes their relationship seem worse than it really is. Sure, it isn’t pleasant. But it didn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary. Throughout the film, Tom comes across as a lonely senior citizen who just wants someone to talk to. Meanwhile, Gene is presented as, simply, annoyed by how often his father speaks. I feel this is the result of the screen-writing. Both Gene and Melvyn did the best they could with the material they were given. But, for characters and their relationships, they have to be well acted and written.
My overall impression:
Like I said in the introduction, I Never Sang for My Father is a movie that I’d heard of, but had never seen. I thought that the story would be deep and thought-provoking. But, now that I have seen the movie, I, honestly, think it’s just ok. The story itself was more straight forward than I had expected. I also thought that the plot was weaker than it could have been. However, one of the better parts of the film was, definitely, the acting! Melvyn Douglas’ performance was a highlight, bringing his character to life in such a captivating way. I’m glad that I gave I Never Sang for My Father a chance, as I was able to introduce myself to new actors and films! With several changes, this movie could have been approved by the Breen Code. These changes would be the following:
- At the beginning of the movie, there is a couple that can be seen kissing passionately. Either the man or woman in the relationship would need to turn their head in order to block the kiss or the kiss itself would have to be cut shorter when it comes to length of time.
- There are several instances when foul or suggestive language is used by the characters. One constant example is whenever someone swears. These words would need to be rewritten, with the screen-writer choosing words that are more appropriate.
- As I mentioned in my review, there is a subplot about Gene having an affair. This part of the story would either get omitted or would be rewritten to make this relationship come across in a more subtle way. Any references to sex would be removed or rewritten to be as subtle in presentation as possible.
Overall score: 6 out of 10
Have you been keeping up with Turner Classic Movies’ “Summer Under the Stars” marathon? Which day of the marathon are you excited for? Share your thoughts in the comment section!
Have fun at the movies!