After a couple of whopping flops, Colman made it clear that he would only accept the very best material and was not about to make more than one film per year. His desire for quality was more than fulfilled by THE LATE GEORGE APLEY, which had first been a best-selling Pulitzer Prize-winning
novel, then was adapted into a play. Colman is Apley, a man who believes his beloved Boston to be the hub of the universe. Moreover, he is convinced that any place not within 10 miles of Beacon Hill is savage as Borneo. Colman demands that his son, Ney, attend Harvard and that his daughter,
Cummins, only marry a man who has grown up within earshot of the Charles Street Church. But as fate would have it, Ney falls for Brown, a girl from Worcester, and Cummins begins dating a Yalie (perish the thought!). What's a Brahmin to do? The situation is not hopeless, though, as Cummins's
boyfriend, Russell, does show some signs of culture by regularly quoting Emerson, Colman's favorite author. Still, Colman forbids Ney to marry his love and by film's end, it seems likely that Ney will wind up like his father, watching birds and upholding all the moral standards that their
ancestors handed down.
There are some similarities between this film and LIFE WITH FATHER in that the central characters in both stories are concerned with the status quo. However, Colman's Apley is basically a sympathetic character underneath all his surface bluster, while William Powell's Clarence Day is more or less
the same on the inside as he is on the outside. Moreover, unlike Day, George Apley also demonstrates some openness to change. Reputedly, author Marquand pictured no one but Colman in the role of Apley, and the English actor--who had no problem slipping into the highbrow, quasi-English accent of
the Back Bay--gives a wonderful performance. Cummins, another English import in her first American film, is also excellent, and Ney contributes some of his best work. Natwick and Best score in supporting roles, and Haydn is superb as a prissy Boston type. Mankiewicz, who had been known primarily
as a writer and producer before directing DRAGONWYCK, handles the directional chores with aplomb and keeps the comedy coming with regularity. Bostonians, notoriously putoff by attempts to spoof them, flocked to the theaters to see THE LATE GEORGE APLEY and laughed their heads off.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: After a couple of whopping flops, Colman made it clear that he would only accept the very best material and was not about to make more than one film per year. His desire for quality was more than fulfilled by THE LATE GEORGE APLEY, which had first been a b… (more)