Showing posts with label Paul Stewart. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Paul Stewart. Show all posts

13 March 2015

DVD Review - Child is Waiting (1963)

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Genre:
Drama
Distributor:
Simply Media
DVD Release Date:
16th March 2015 (UK)
Rating: PG
Director:
John Cassavetes
Cast:
Burt Lancaster, Judy Garland, Gena Rowlands, Steven Hill, Paul Stewart,
Buy:A Child Is Waiting [DVD]

John Cassavetes is considered by many to be the father of American Independent cinema; he isn’t in my opinion, as Roger Corman and Sam Fuller predate him, amongst many others. He is however a pioneer in the fact he made these rich, character based dramas that he wrote, directed and put his own money into them. He had a couple years in the early ‘60s before he made his groundbreaking Faces where he almost became a studio director with films like Too Late Blues and A Child in Waiting.

The noted director Stanley Kramer produced A Child is Waiting and they butted heads over the final cut. Despite the post-production turmoil, Cassavetes (who disowned the film), admitted it wasn’t too bad, just a bit overly sentimental for his own taste. It’s a fascinating film for many reasons. Firstly, as a historical depiction of disability on screen, uncommonly (even shamefully today), most of the disabled children are played by actual disabled children which is in tune with Cassavetes’ realistic, improv style.

Judy Garland and Burt Lancaster star in the film, and both gives some of their finest performances in their respective, extraordinary film careers. Lancaster plays the head of the school, Dr. Matthew Clark, and clashes with Garland’s Jean Hansen over his strict teaching methods. Hanson also becomes emotionally involved with one of the kids who Clark considers to be one of their big failures, and they battle over how to education him. Lancaster brings the physicality that he always did due to his background in the circus. Garland also really shows off her acting chops, something that was rarely on display in other films she did.

A Child is Waiting deserves to be re-analysed as one of Cassavetes’ finest films and of his two “Hollywood” films it’s certainly his best, despite obviously being toned down from Cassavetes’ original intentions. Cassavetes had an extremely forward thinking take on the material, stating in the book Cassavetes on Cassavetes, “My film said that retarded children could be anywhere, any time, and that the problem is that we're a bunch of dopes, that it's our problem more than the kids. The point of the original picture that we made was that there was no fault, that there was nothing wrong with these children except that their mentality was lower." The finished film, which Kramer edited, had a bent that was more of it’s time, basically saying the kids are better off in the institute than in the main population.

★★★★
Ian Schultz