The Late George Apley | Chicago Reader

The Late George Apley

In early-20th-century Boston, a well-to-do patriarch (Ronald Colman) labors to preserve tradition at home and in civic life even though everyone around him is hungry for change. Philip Dunne scripted this Shavian comedy of manners (1947), adapting a play by George S. Kaufman and John P. Marquand that was, in turn, based on Marquand’s novel. The movie wears its literary origins on its sleeve; virtually all the action is dialogue driven, and that dialogue tends to be dry and rhetorical. Joseph L. Mankiewicz directed (just before making his hit The Ghost and Mrs. Muir), and it’s a good thing he did. Few Hollywood filmmakers had his flair for staging verbose conversation; this remains effervescent and visually elegant even when the material verges on stodginess.

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