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Friday, 30 November 2012

All Fall Down (1962) - Star of the month Angela Lansbury


"I never know what I'm going to do next. I just follow the breeze. I just live for kicks." - Warren Beatty (as Berry-Berry Willart in 'All Fall Down')

'All Fall Down' is a 1962 drama directed by John Frankenheimer and starring Warren Beatty, Angela Lansbury, Karl Malden, Eva Marie Saint & Brandon deWilde.

Produced by John Houseman, the screenplay was written by William Inge, which was adapted from the novel by James Leo Herlihy.

Young drifter Berry-Berry Willart (played by Beatty) is a rebel with nowhere to go. He finds himself in and out of jail, and keeps away from his controlling mother, Annabel Willart (played by Lansbury) and father Ralph Willart (played by Karl Malden). His younger Clinton Willart (played by deWilde) idolises Berry-Berry, but soon discovers his nasty side when Echo (played by Saint), the daughter of a family friend stays with the Willarts.

Watch a short video about the film:

Family relationships

This film is all about family relationships.

The film's very first line informs the viewer the film is going to be about the relationship between two brothers, as Clinton says: "It seems that I've been on this crummy bus half my life, but I still think its worth it, because in a couple of minutes for the first time in over a year I'm going to see my brother Barry Barry".  At this point, Clinton idolizes and looks up to his older brother, Berry-Berry.

Also from the start of the film the viewer is informed of Berry-Berry's temper and wild behavior as we discover he is in jail. We are not informed of why he is in jail, which leads to suspense and curiosity as the we anxiously wait to find out. The waitress at the bar tells Clinton "if Berry-Berry was my brother, I wouldn't go around bragging about it", before escorting him to the door. Once we, along with Clinton finally meet Berry-Berry, Clinton tells him: "I don't want to go home. I want to stay with you".  Once we see what Clinton's home life is like with his parents, we can empathise with this statement.  Despite Clinton's strong admiration for his brother, the relationship between the two gradually deteriorates after Echo comes between the two.

Berry-Berry & Clinton's relationship with their mother is very different to most maternal relationships. They call their mother by her first name, Annabelle. Despite her controlling and to a degree manipulative ways, Annabelle does have good intentions. She loves her boys very much, and even makes Clinton pancakes for breakfast which he chooses to not eat. Instead opting to make his own breakfast.   At Christmastime, Annabelle is both surprised and grateful when Clinton gives her a gift. She asks him "For me?", as if she is doubting his generosity. In the film, Annabelle delivers one of my favourite statements: "Eavesdroppers never hear anything good about themselves." When you think about it, it's very true.

Clinton gives his mother Annabelle a Christmas gift - "For me?" she asks


Closing remarks

Overall, the film delivers a brilliant character study on family relationships, as well as tackling controversial issues such as female battery, adultery, and the female predator (cougar) prying on young men.  Despite taking 30 mins to introduce and develop the principle cast, the film is pure entertainment from the very beginning until the end. My favourite scene in the film occurs during Christmas time when Ralph invites 3 homeless tramps into their home, and Annabelle literally pays them $10 to leave.

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