Beloved Infidel (1959)

Synopsis:

This is the true story of Hollywood columnist Sheilah Graham (Deborah Kerr, The End of the Affair) and her turbulent relationship with American author F. Scott Fitzgerald (Gregory Peck, To Kill a Mockingbird). They met and fell in love in 1936 and their affair continued until the author’s sudden death of a heart attack in 1940.

Reaction & Thoughts:

“You look more attractive everyday. Today you look like tomorrow.”

Directed by Henry King (The Song of Bernadette) from a script by Sly Bartlett (Twelve O’Clock High) based upon Sheilah Graham’s memoir, Beloved Infidel is a glossy but ultimately emotionally unsatisfactory fact-based melodrama.

Beloved Infidel does have a touch of A Star is Born that I liked; Graham’s career rises as Fitzgerald’s career collapses. This time around, the familiar scenario has a voyeuristic element because we are dealing with well-known public figures.

It’s also fun to see Hollywood in the 1930s. Names were changed, but if you know your Hollywood history, you won’t be fooled: Eddie Albert (Roman Holiday) and Karin Booth (My Foolish Heart) play thinly-disguised versions of humorist Robert Benchley (I Married a Witch) and actress Alice Faye (In Old Chicago) respectively.

In her 1985 book Hollywood Revisited, Sheilah Graham talked about her displeasure with the film. Her main point of contention was the casting. She thought Deborah Kerr was too lady-like to play her. She was also very unhappy with Gregory Peck’s portrayal of F. Scott Fitzgerald (Graham wanted Richard Basehart, He Walked by Night).

I agree with Graham about Peck; he is all wrong as Fitzgerald. Peck is just too grounded to be believable as the shaky author. His drunken scenes look like play-acting — these scenes are funny rather than disturbing. Peck himself said that he had given a bad performance, and I agree; this is the very first time I have seen Peck struggle badly.

On the flip side, I thought Kerr was very good. Beloved Infidel is told from her character’s perspective, and Kerr does a good job drawing the viewer into her world. I do see Graham’s point. The columnist was known for her snide remarks, and Kerr is just too elegant to properly exude Graham’s famous sarcasm. But Kerr does convey beautifully the desperation of a woman in love with a helpless addict.

Flaws notwithstanding, Beloved Infidel looks and sounds fantastic! The film was shot by celebrated cameraman Leon Shamroy (Leave Her to Heaven and The Black Swan) in CinemaScope (it’s a beautiful-looking movie). Franz Waxman (Sunset Boulevard and A Place in the Sun) wrote a soothing music score. The appropriately romantic title song was written by Waxman (music) and Paul Francis Webster (lyrics).

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

 Beloved Infidel tries to follow in the footsteps of Love is a Many-Splendored Thing and An Affair to Remember (all three movies were produced by 20th Century Fox), but it doesn’t quite make the grade. That said, Deborah Kerr is very good and the film’s storyline will be of great interest to movie buffs. Color, 123 minutes, Not Rated.

This is my contribution to The Deborah Kerr Blogathon, hosted by Maddy Loves Her Classic Films.

6 responses to “Beloved Infidel (1959)

  1. Pingback: The Deborah Kerr Blogathon Begins – Maddy Loves Her Classic Films·

  2. This is a film that has its moments, but I’d agree that it is mostly a disappointment. Deborah Kerr is the best thing about the film to be honest. I thought someone like James Mason would have been a better fit for this role, rather than Gregory Peck who seems quite out of his depth.

    Thanks for joining.

    Liked by 1 person

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