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Saturday, 19 May 2012

Pocketful of Miracles (1961)

Spotlight on Movie Mothers - Mothers Dearest and Director Birthday - Frank Capra

Director Birthday - Frank Capra

Frank Capra was born on 18 May 1897 in Palermo, Sicily, Italy. Capra migrated to America and is still considered to be one of the greatest film directors of all time. His most memorable film is It's A Wonderful Life (1946).

Recommended viewing

Keeping with the spotlight on Movie Mothers throughout May, I have selected Capra's final Pocketful of Miracles (1961), starring Bette Davis for my blog.

Pocketful of Miracles (1961)

Pocketful of Miracles (1961) is a heartwarming, yet unfunny comedy directed by Frank Capra and starring Bette Davis and Glenn Ford. The film is essentially a remake of Capra's 1933 film Lady for a Day. Actor Peter Falk was nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar.

The 1960s was an interesting decade for Bette Davis, in which she made some of her best and some of her worse films. Pocketful of Miracles falls into the mediocre mid-point. It is not great, but it is not awful. The film has potential, but just isn't as enjoyable to watch as many of Capra's other films. I think the biggest drawback of the film is its pace and duration. The film runs for 2 and a quarter hours, and it takes almost 45 minutes for the main storyline to begin. Had Capra cut the film down to 90 minutes, it may have been better received and remembered.

That said, the film is notable for being a beginning and an end for three Hollywood greats:

The plot

Bette Davis stars as Apple Annie. A gin-drinking apple seller who sells lucky apples to fund her daughter's European education. Her most loyal customer is gangster Dave the Dude (played by Glenn Ford), who believes Annie's apples bring him luck. 

During the film Annie receives a letter from her daughter Louise (played by Ann-Margret), bringing news she will be visiting with her aristocrat boyfriend Carlos and his father Count Alfonso Romero. The trouble is due to many white lies, Louise believes her mother to be wealthy socialite, Mrs. E. Worthington Manville, who lives in a luxurious hotel.

Dave's girlfriend Queenie Martin (played by Hope Lange) persuades Dave to help Annie out by giving her a glamorous makeover, moving her into an expensive hotel, giving her a pretend husband (played by Thomas Mitchell) and a butler (played by Edward Everett Horton).

Without giving too much away, the outcome of the film is very predictable and extremely unrealistic.

Apple Annie's relationship with Louise

Apple Annie is devoted to her daughter, despite telling many lies about who she is. During one scene, Annie yells at a cat for sleeping against a photo frame with Louise's picture on it, and then kisses the photo. It is out of her strong love for her daughter that she lies about who she is, and helps her daughter secure a wealthy husband.

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