Silent screen star Corinne Griffith saw her career wane when sound marched in because her voice was, at best, thin. After her film demise, she turned to writing, published several books, including the one that served as inspiration for this film, parlayed her earnings into a
multi-million-dollar real estate fortune (she owned much of South Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills), and lived out her life healthily and wealthily on South Beverwil Drive, about two blocks away from her vast holdings. For years, her small, exquisite home was a stop for the tour buses that prowl the
area. She had the last laugh on the studio chiefs who said she was "beautiful, but dumb." This autobiographical movie takes place in her home town of Grangeville, Texas, before WW I. Gleason is Papa, a man given to taking a few more drinks than the average fellow--the "delicate condition" referred
to in the title. His 6-year-old, Bruhl, adores him, but his behavior is a constant thorn to his wife, Johns, and his older daughter, Goodwin. There's a "blue law" in Texas stating that a man can't buy a drink, so Gleason buys the local pharmacy to give him and his pals a place to imbibe. When
Bruhl wants a pony and cart from a traveling circus, Gleason uses all of his savings to buy the entire shebang, including all the unpaid debts, and throws his family into financial chaos. Johns is disgusted and takes her daughters to Texarkana, moving back in with her father, Ruggles, who is mayor
of that town. Gleason can't stand being away from his family. Ruggles is about to run for re-election, and Gleason arrives with the flea-bitten circus troupe to help him garner the office. Gleason attempts to take Bruhl with him to Grangeville, but Johns stops him and there is a struggle. In the
fracas, Bruhl falls and is mildly hurt. Gleason is depressed about what he's done and vanishes. Months pass, and Ruggles sees that Johns, Bruhl, and Goodwin truly miss the man, so he searches the South and finally locates Gleason in Louisiana, then convinces him to return to Texarkana. Gleason
stands outside the Ruggles' house and can't bring himself to walk in until he hears Johns at the piano as she plays and sings the traditional "Bill Bailey, Won't You Please Come Home?" (Hughie Cannon). That convinces him, and the family is reunited for a happy ending.
A lovely family film that you can take a tyke or your maiden aunt Shirley to see, PAPA'S DELICATE CONDITION is the movie in which the Sammy Cahn-Jimmy Van Heusen standard "Call Me Irresponsible" was first heard. It was a perfect tune for the story and won the Oscar as Best Song of 1963. Gleason
didn't have that much of a chance to exercise his comedy in the constrained role, but there was some fine humor from Cook and Hamilton as the circus owners, as well as from Baker, Glass, and Lane as Gleason's cronies. Bruhl, as Corinne Griffith, was delightful.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: Silent screen star Corinne Griffith saw her career wane when sound marched in because her voice was, at best, thin. After her film demise, she turned to writing, published several books, including the one that served as inspiration for this film, parlayed… (more)