Kings Row (1942)

Kings Row, the precursor to Peyton Place, sure was juicy soap opera.  The second half is better than the first half.  The first half focuses more on Parris (Robert Cummings)  who can’t figure out his lover’s, Cassie (Betty Field), troubles.  This film is based on a book.  In the book, Cassie is molested by her doctor father (Claude Rains) but this could not be said in 1942.  The film, at least to modern audiences, doesn’t make it clear that this is what Cassie suffers but perhaps 1942 audiences sensed it.  If only there could have been a scene with the father touching his daughter’s hair or following her into the house. Rains is the best actor in the film. Maria Ouspenskaya  as Parris’ grandmother annoys me as do most of her roles.  My apologies to her fans.

The 2nd half focuses on Drake (Ronald Reagan)  and Randy (Ann Sheridan). This is when it gets juicy.  Both performed very well.  Reagan is a rich carefree playboy who really does want to settle down. Sheridan is the no-nonesense childhood friend now lover from the lower working class.  Sheridan is so naturally beautiful. I’ve underrated her beauty in the past since I’ve been unundated with the high-maintenance glamour girl types. Reagan also loves Louise (Nancy Coleman), the daughter of a religous fanatic yet sadistic doctor. Louise’s father will eventually avenge Drake.  Coleman’s role is smaller but she does a great job.  Supposedly Coleman married against Warner Studios wishes, causing her career to falter.  A great pity, she was quite the talent.

I read Jane Wyman was so annoyed with ex-husband Reagan constantly playing this movie.  Wonder if it came up in the divorce hearing.