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While trying to help her husband make a comeback, an alcoholic singer''''s wife fights her love for another man.
In a New York theater, stage director Bernie Dodd argues with producer Phil Cook about hiring Frank Elgin to replace their new musical's lead actor, who was fired one week into rehearsal. Bernie has long admired Frank, but Phil is reluctant, as the once successful Frank now has a reputation as a troublesome alcoholic. Bernie finally convinces Phil to audition Frank, insisting that he is clean and sober. Although Phil is not particularly impressed with Frank's audition, he agrees to sign him to a contract with a limited, two-week guarantee. As Frank has left the theater unexpectedly, Bernie goes to his rundown apartment to tell him the news and meets Georgie, Frank's wife. The dowdy but youthful Georgie responds to Bernie with sarcasm, explaining that she is a country girl who has never understood the vagaries of the theater. Frank is hesitant about Bernie's offer and asks for time to discuss it with Georgie. After Bernie leaves, Georgie advises Frank to take the role and do his "level best." Frank, who is concerned about learning his lines in time for the Boston try-out, finally agrees, figuring that he can quit the show if things go wrong. During rehearsal, Frank has trouble concentrating, and afterward, when asked by Bernie about his marriage, confesses he is dominated by Georgie. Frank reveals that after their young son died unexpectedly, Georgie started drinking, attempted suicide and set fire to a hotel room. Later, he says, in an attempt to give her life new purpose, he allowed Georgie to become involved in his work, and she became so controlling, he was driven to drink. Bernie commiserates with Frank, noting that his ex-wife tried to take over his career as well. Georgie suddenly appears in the wings, and the three go out for coffee. Once alone with Georgie, Bernie criticizes her for not encouraging Frank, an accusation she quickly dismisses. At home, while listening to the radio, Frank hears an old recording of him singing "The Search Is Through" and begins to reminisce: In a recording studio, while a vibrant Georgie and their young son Johnny watch, Frank sings the final strains of the song. Frank then insists on taking Johnny to the zoo, but outside the studio, stops to pose for a photographer, letting go of Johnny's hand. An instant later, Johnny is hit by a car and killed. Back in the present, Georgie enters the apartment and quietly turns off the radio. She then finds two empty liquor bottles and questions Frank about his drinking. Frank admits he is afraid and wants to quit the show, but Georgie insists he go to Boston. There, Frank is nervous during final rehearsal and complains to Georgie about the quick costume changes and the understudy who lingers in the wings. Georgie passes Frank's complaints on to Bernie, but Bernie accuses her of inventing problems and interfering with her husband's career. When questioned by Bernie, Frank, who is always pleasant with others, denies he is unhappy with the understudy, and Georgie cries, humiliated. After opening night, Frank refuses to sleep until he has read the notices and is distraught when they are unfavorable. With Bernie, however, Frank pretends to be nonplussed. During a difficult rehearsal, Frank then begins to guzzle alcohol-laced cough syrup, disregarding Georgie's pleas to stop. Bernie corners Georgie in Frank's dressing room and again accuses her of meddling. When Georgie calls Frank a "cunning drunkard," Bernie angrily informs her that Phil wants to replace Frank and declares that Frank would improve if she left Boston. Frustrated, Georgie slaps Bernie, then states that Frank is on the verge of a breakdown. After instructing Georgie to be on the next night's train to New York, Bernie catches Frank drinking his cough syrup. Frank claims that Georgie bought him the syrup, and now convinced that she is trying to destroy Frank, Bernie reveals that Georgie is leaving town. Once alone with Georgie, Frank apologizes for lying and begs her to stay, but accuses her of having a boyfriend in New York. Fed up, Georgie storms out, and Frank heads for the nearest bar. There, Frank drinks heavily and when he hears someone singing "The Search Is Through" hurls his glass into a large mirror, shattering it. The next morning, after Georgie bails him out of jail, a hungover Frank continues to make excuses to Bernie. When Bernie confronts Georgie with Frank's story about her drunken past, Georgie reveals that it was Frank who attempted suicide and shows him the scars on Frank's wrists as proof. After Bernie sends a stunned Frank to the theater, Georgie talks about Johnny's death and how Frank became terrified of even the smallest responsibility. Bernie apologizes to Georgie and asks her not to go, but she bitterly responds that she wants nothing more than to get out from under Frank. Overcome, Bernie grabs Georgie and kisses her, admitting that his anger toward her was a cover for his attraction. Moved by Bernie's passion, Georgie finally agrees to stay in Boston. Later, in Frank's dressing room, Bernie yells at Frank that he has been using his son's death as an excuse to drink and that he drinks to hide his fear of failure. Frank agrees with Bernie's assessment and listens with resignation as Phil tells Bernie that he has arranged for Frank's replacement. Bernie continues to defend Frank, however, and a now sober Frank is still in the show when it opens on Broadway. Frank and the show are a hit, but during a party at Phil's, Frank notices Georgie and Bernie together and senses their attraction. When confronted by Frank, Georgie admits that she is considering leaving him, but also acknowledges that she has been fostering his dependency. After Frank returns to the party, the piano player begins playing "The Search Is Through." Without thinking, Georgie rushes to stop the music and is overjoyed to see Frank standing next to the piano, listening to the song without fear. Georgie then kisses Bernie goodbye and runs to her husband's side.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||Premiere Info:||Los Angeles opening: 11 Dec 1954; New York opening: 15 Dec 1954|
|Release Date:||1955||Production Date:||
[up to 1.85:1]
|Color/B&W:||Black and White||Distributions Co:||Paramount Pictures Corp.|
|Sound:||Mono||Production Co:||Perlberg-Seaton Productions, Paramount Pictures Corp.|
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Exceptional Mr. Crosby
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Bob Hendrick 2009-01-26
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