Carrie (1952)

"Very Good"

Carrie (1952) Review


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.

Wyler and his screenwriters honed the prosy bulk of Sister Carrie into a heartbreaking love story, bypassing the bad-girl-makes-good angle to focus on George Hurstwood (Laurence Olivier), a middle-aged, wealthy restaurateur who gives up his home in Chicago, his wife, and his children to run off with the young and beautiful Carrie (Jennifer Jones). She's a naïve, mid-west farm girl who's become wise to making-it-in-the-big-city by falling in with a smarmy salesman Charles Drouet (Eddie Albert), pretending to all that she's married. A neighbor asks if she loves him. She says poverty makes love beside the point.

When Carrie and George meet, their passion offers a much-needed supply of understanding vacant from both their lives. They elope simply because they are in love; their bliss is to be away from everyone in their past. At this point the movie changes along with the fates of the characters, turning from soap opera to a revealing emotional portrayal of what happens in the land of happily-ever-after.

George stole money from his restaurant to go to New York and marry Carrie. But his first wife won't divorce, she cuts off his assets, and keeps him from seeing his children. George's theft is discovered and he can't get a job. When Carrie finally leaves him, he spirals into poverty and homelessness while Carrie thrives on the American Dream - training and auditioning and working her way up to become a well-known actress. George is asked "why" at one point, why give up the good life everyone dreams of to go off with "some girl" half his age? He replies with the truth - for love. "Love don't pay the piper," says Charles. "Everyone's got to pay the piper."

Carrie is the story of the profound, even life-threatening price, one pays for being in love. And it's Olivier who makes it work. Jennifer Jones plays Carrie with too much innocence and it's hard to believe she's capable of controlling and manipulating the men in her life. Olivier, on the other hand, is compelling as the hard-suffering George, and we feel every bit of his pain. In the last half, Olivier has little dialogue, expressing the doubt, fear, and desire for Carrie in his body and eyes, his every move telling what he feels. He wants her, he gave it all for her, and he ended up with nothing. It's remarkable acting, better than his showier roles in those well-known Shakespearean movies, and not to be missed.

Now on DVD, the film includes a restored scene deemed to scandalous for its day.



Facts and Figures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.