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GreatMoviesFan

The Member of the Wedding

22 posts in this topic

I love this movie, it's one of my favorites, I loved Julie Harris (R.I.P) in it as Frankie. I don't know why it's not a more popular film. What's ironic is as a teenager I could relate very much to Frankie even though I had a mother. Especially when Berenice told her 'You're too mean to live' and Frankie replied 'I KNOW IT!', yeah, definitely been there.

 

How about everyone else? Anybody see this movie?

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I once saw the Hallmark remake with that girl from Fly Away Home...she did the role absolutely no justice. I think they had it right the first time, Julie Harris was 27 playing a 12 year old and it worked because Frankie was in a sense an 'old' child, the way that she already seemed so burnt out on every aspect in her life.

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I love this movie. It captures the performances of Julie Harris, Ethel Waters and Brandon DeWilde in the roles they played in the Broadway play.

We can forgive the fact that Julie Harris does not look like a 12 year old because she brings Frankie in all her complexities to life.

The first time I saw this movie I tuned in during the scene with the knife and was captivated.

What a shame that Brandon DeWilde died at the age of 30. He was so talented. I can only imagine what he could have done in more mature roles.

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We can also forgive the fact that she doesn't look like a 12 year old because that's exactly the point. She's grown so much over the summer, that's why the man at the bar thought she was an adult and took her into the back room. Though the first time I saw it, I came into it after Frankie takes off her dress and is in the kitchen in her slip and at first I thought it was a boy dressed up as a girl, then I realized it was a girl and figured she might be 16.

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When I saw this movie, I wanted the Ethel Waters character to smack the Juliie Harris character into the next county.

 

Or, as I posted here some years back, this movie answers the question, "What sort of movie would you get if Woody Allen played the part of a 12-year-old girl?"

 

Sorry, but I hate hate hate this movie.

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Sorry to be disagreeable, but I'm with Fedya on this one.

 

I don't just not like *Member of the Wedding*, I loathe it.

 

Why? Well, despite all the praise for Julie Harris' performance in this, I cannot stand her in it. Maybe it's just the character. I might feel the same about her no matter who played the part, There is a particular whinyness to this girl, whether it's due to the way Harris plays her or the way she is written, I'm not sure. Probably a combination of both.

 

Now, I myself, believe it or not, was once an adolescent girl. And yes, like most adolescent girls, I went through various stages of whinyness, self-dramatization, melancholy, low self confidence, loneliness, and self-aggrandizement., quite possibly all at the same time on occasion. So it's not that I don't understand where a 13 year old girl is, psychologically.

 

But I've never known anyone as annoyingly self-conscious and dramatic as "Frankie". She's like female adolescent angst on steroids.

 

Fact is, the whole film is nothing but Frankie's various manifestations of teenage turmoil. All she ever thinks about is herself - even the kid who's her friend (sort of) is just a prop for her to examine her own emotions. Yes, she is shocked and saddened when he dies - but that's the only moment in the entire film that this character is likable to me.

 

Anyway, I do like *The Heart is a Lonely Hunter*, another film based on a book by Carson McCullers.

But I will never willingly watch *Member of the Wedding* again.(not that it's likely anyone would force me to - torture by cinema?)

 

edit- I said "13", maybe she's 12. Hardly a big difference.

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misswonderly, I completely agree with you that Frankie in THE MEMBER OF THE WEDDING is a self-centered,mean-spirited, unpleasant character. At the end of the movie, her perspective has changed (matured perhaps) but she is still basically a self-centered person. This is one of the reasons I like the film. It doesn't try to make the audience like Frankie.

 

We love Berenice and John Henry, but how do we feel about Frankie? I'm not sure how I feel about her, and for some reason I like that uncertainty.

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Holden, I don't mind dislikable characters in film, as long as they hold my interest - which they usually do. In fact, in many movies, the most reprehensible character is often also the most enjoyable to watch. (this is a semi-plug for my "Good, Bad, Judgemental" thread. sort of.)

 

But Frankie is not only whiney, self-centred, and joyless - she's also boring. She bores me, as does the entire film (which isn't surprising, since Frankie is in every single scene, every single second. At least, it feels like it.)

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I can't stand Harris's interpretation of Frankie even though I know she did it on bway. I find it hard to identify with her and I was a pretty miserable kid. So I won't willingly watch this again, even though I've seen it a time or two.

 

Edited by: helenbaby on Sep 24, 2013 8:50 PM

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I enjoy watching it every few years. In general it's well done, though

there is sometimes a slight whiff of melodrama, but not so much as

to hurt the story. I can understand why some folks find Julie Harris a

bit (or much more than a bit) over the top, but I can live with that

aspect of the movie.

 

I think an intriguing alternative take would be for Humbert Humbert to

come roaring into the small town with Lo in tow, and intereact with

the leads from Member. I'll bet John Henry would be reduced to a

glasses fogged, southern fried puddle. :)

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Here's a clip of Brandon DeWilde's appearance on WHAT'S MY LINE? (a quiz show from the 1950s).

 

 

 

 

It makes me smile every time I see it, and it also makes me sad that his life was cut so short.

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Interesting clip. Too bad Brandon passed away at an early age.

 

When John Henry dies, it seems his passing signals the end of

summer and the start of Frankie integrating into the world outside

the house.

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That is a very eloquent way of summing up..... and admit, never thought of it before, but I have always loved the play for its simplicity and observations on growing up, and more so, the three brilliant performances. I totally understand why Julie Harris may not work for some people (although, I really don't), but my feeling for JH might be because I have seen her work on the stage my whole life,and she brought a whole different dimension in the theater and the "Golden Age" of TV. It is with those performances that I first came to seeing Member of the Wedding on TCM. I'm a fan of this one.

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StBartsActor, I very recently saw a recorded live performance of Julie Harris as Emily Dickinson in the play BELLE OF AMHERST. While I usually don't care too much for "one-person shows," I was completely captivated by her performance. We are very fortunate to have a record of her work before an audience. I'm not sure where this particular performance took place, but I suspect it was somewhere in southern California. When Emily mentioned "San Diego" there was a reaction that would most likely only have come from a California audience.

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Yay, Miss Wonderly...we finally have found something to disagree on.

 

I love TMOTW, not that I can't see why many might find it annoying.

 

I think I saw it at a young age, loved Julie Harris always in anything and totally dug Brandon DeWilde's portrayal and he was so amazing in Shane also..

 

I may be wrong but...seems like long ago I read that Brandon's character was based on Truman Capote, who was of course a friend of McCullers.

 

My personal, unrational dislike is directed unfairly toward Ethel Waters who I've never liked ever since I saw an interview with Butterfly MCQueen saying how nasty she was in real life.

 

But that's not reel life, and she is good in this film...though it still does NOT make me like her...haha!

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CaveGirl, I am a big Brandon DeWilde fan. I wish TCM would air BLUE DENIM (which I have never seen).

 

By the way, it is the character of Dill in Harper Lee's TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD that is based on Truman Capote, not John Henry in THE MEMBER OF THE WEDDING. Harper Lee and Truman Capote were friends since childhood. This friendship is depicted in the movie CAPOTE.

 

I do love Ethel Waters as Berenice, but I totally understand how one's feelings about performers can be tarnished by hearing something about their "real life."

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Thanks, Holden for clearing that up.

 

I love Capote and have seen him talk on so many shows I'm getting all his old tales confused. I do remember though that he was neighbors with the famed Honeymoon Killer, so that's good.

 

Yes, Dill does seem more like the Truman as depicted in his own story, "A Christmas Memory" which was filmed with Geraldine Page I think for tv.

 

I've seen BD and you would enjoy it. Actually it is rather bold for the 1950's in its content of the unwed mother theme. And as always, Brandon is fabulous.

 

Great as a kid actor and as a young adult. I always liked him in "Hud" and wasn't it "All Fall Down"?

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I grew up in very small towns in the late 1940s and early 50s. So small and remote in Montana, Nebraska, and Wyoming, and then later down in Mississippi and Alabama. In the mountain states we were so remote, we had no TV, AND no radio, and no movie theaters in some of the towns. No nuthin.

 

And of course I was too young to date.

 

No TV, no radio, no movies, and no dates. Now THAT is boring. And this movie reminds me of those years. No wonder the girl is upset

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I can see why some people think that Julie is a bit too much,

but that has never been enough of a factor for me to not like

the movie. Frankie does undergo an obvious transformation from

an over emotional, dramatic outsider to someone who fits in

more with her school peers, and both John Henry and Berenice

sort of drop away, in difference ways of course. I suppose everybody

has to grow up sooner or later.

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Yes, CaveGirl, Brandon DeWilde was in ALL FALL DOWN, which also featured Warren Beatty as Berry-Berry, the older brother of Brandon DeWilde's character. What an usual family that was with Warren Beatty for a a brother, Angela Lansbury for a mother and Karl Malden for a father. The screenplay was by William Inge (BUS STOP, PICNIC, COME BACK LITTLE SHEBA) which he adapted from the novel by James Leo Herlihy (who also wrote the novel MIDNIGHT COWBOY, which was adapted into a movie, and the play BLUE DENIM, that was adapted into the movie starring Brandon DeWilde and Carol Lynley).

 

I understand that the ending of the movie BLUE DENIM was different than the ending of the play. In the original play, the unwed mother does have an abortion. I've read that in the movie adaptation, she does not go through with the abortion. I think the parents find out what tthe couple is planning and stop it. But, yes, a story about an unwed pregnant teenager looking into having an abortion was bold for a movie in 1959. I would like to see TCM air the movie, since it has never been released on video.

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