Another of Hollywood's many takes on the independent woman/"career girl" (whoever uses that term these days?), "Hilda Crane" is somewhere mid-point in the cycle. It was made just a few years before that quintessential career-girl movie "The Best of Everything." Hilda has "lived" but is not condemned to suffer, as would have been the case perhaps in a film of the 40's. Late in the film there's a very 50's having-one's-cake-and-eating-it-too scene that would seem to indicate that an adulterous episode has occurred, but also contains some very ambiguous dialogue in that regard. It's interesting to compare the film's take on the proper role of women with the questions that "Bigger Than Life" of the same year raises about men's roles in society. While "Hilda Crane" does not have the degree of subversiveness that Ray's film does, there are still questioning undercurrents. Things were percolating, and it was just a few years before Betty Friedan blew the lid off.
It starts with Hilda's defeated return from New York to her small-town home, just as "Clash by Night" begins with the return of a character played by Barbara Stanwyck. While in many triangle films it is the man who must choose between an exciting "bad" girl and a dull "good" girl, here, as in "Clash by Night," it is the woman who must decide--in this case, between the dangerous and foreign literature professor and the loyal, somewhat plodding boy-next-door type. (Most boys next door, however, do not look like Guy Madison.) The film features not one but two monstrous mothers.
Jean Simmons brings her usual loveliness, intelligence and dancer's grace to the part of Hilda, and David Raksin provides another dynamic score that combines melody and dissonance (he did study after all with Arnold Schoenberg, master of atonal music). Some ten years earlier Raksin did the score for another career-girl triangle film, "Daisy Kenyon."
Twice divorced Hilda Crane feeling she's run out of chances returns to her mother's house in her small hometown and tries to decide what to do next while still hoping to hold onto her independence. That proves to be a challenge.
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August 06, 2018 at 02:27 AM