Kings Row Reviews
The early scenes are one of the areas that I struggled with. It did a great job of establishing the characters before the big events started to occur in their lives, but I had difficulty liking some of them because the child actors were not great. There performances weren't a big detriment to my appreciation of the film, because they did enough to display the personalities of the characters, I just wish the line delivery wasn't so flat from some of them. I did not have this problem with any of the adult actors. There was some real talent in the cast of this film and most of the acting increased my rating. Another interesting aspect of the film is the deft way that Kings Row utilized innuendo in order to imply certain things they could not say or show. Modern cinema seems to struggle at times with the idea of restraint because they can and will do whatever they please. But thanks to the code for films in the 40s, they were forced to use subtle visual cues and carefully scripted dialogue to get an idea across. This was never more evident to me than in Kings Row where lots of extremely dark things occur, but they are heavily restricted in how they can convey that information to the audience. This made it a meticulously crafted film, and one that I am glad I have watched. It might have contained some moments that were a bit too saccharine and idyllic, but it took chances almost from start to finish. I might not rush to watch Kings Row again, but I can recommend it to fans of classic film, because this is a winner.
The plot alone is fascinating, filled with class struggles, career choices, love, intrigue, hints of incest, malpractice, Vienna, the disabled, psychiatry and sanity. Great cast, directing and good music also support.
Crazy to think that this was actually shown on the big screen, this is a hidden gem in the sea of classics.
Builds slowly, initially quite innocently but then more and more with a sense of menace. Some sub-plots emerge along the way which obscure the main plot. Eventually they all tie together, but they provide too much of a smokescreen, ultimately.
This prevents Kings Row from being a great movie. The sub-plots create this rambling story with several climaxes. You want to build up to one climax, but instead you have several, and these make you feel like you've watched several stories back-to-back, rather than one story.
Ultimately, worth watching, but it could have been so much better. More intense focus on just one of the many and varied subjects and plots, and the dilution and even omission of the others, would have made this great.
Actually, it's an incredibly odd film. Morbid. Schizophrenic, even. It goes from one emotional extreme to the next, never really sure of exactly what story it wants to tell us. The child actors were all great, and it was extremely beneficial that the child Parris & the adult Parris looked so much alike. The child Cassie was incredible...but the adult Cassie was unimpressive. And it was harmful that she looked absolutely NOTHING like her child version. So that whole aspect was unconvincing. This may be Rains' best performance. I've never seen him so powerful. Robert Cummings is very good, too. Great music. There is some beauty to be found here, in a perverse way, if one looks hard enough.
Yet most impressive to me was Ronald Reagan. It was my first Reagan film. He was mesmerizing. Presidential. Oozed charisma. Top notch performance, in this "slightly sordid but moving yarn" that made him a star. I would've preferred a better film in which to see him, but he carries it, much like he did his country decades later.