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The Member of the Wedding

The Member of the Wedding(1953)


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On a steamy southern afternoon, Jarvis Addams and his fiancée Janice visit the Addams home to discuss their upcoming wedding. Jarvis' twelve-year-old sister Frances is deeply disturbed by restlessness, loneliness and the conflicting emotions of becoming an adolescent, and her thoughts become fixated on the happy couple. Several days before the wedding, Frankie tells Berenice Sadie Brown, the housekeeper, and John Henry, Frankie's younger cousin, that she plans to leave town and live with the couple after the wedding. Berenice is a practical but soft-hearted widow who, since the death of Frankie's mother, has offered the girl guidance and companionship. She describes her own sadness at the loss of her first husband in order to warn Frankie that she will end up with a broken heart if she imposes herself on the couple. Frankie refuses to listen, however, and during the ceremony, sneaks into the couple's car with her suitcase. When the newlyweds, followed by their families and friends, approach the car, they are stunned to see Frankie in the back seat. Janice gently explains to Frankie that she and her husband wish to be alone on their honeymoon, but Frankie refuses to leave and is dragged screaming from the car. Her father, Berenice and John Henry all try to comfort the girl, but their efforts are fruitless. That night Frankie types her father a farewell letter and runs away. After wandering aimlessly through a disreputable part of town, she enters a bar and meets a drunken soldier. When he tries to kiss her, she breaks free and runs toward home. Meanwhile, Berenice learns that her foster brother Honey, a restless musician who is frequently drunk, has been involved in a hit-and-run accident with a stolen car. She gives him all her money and helps him make his getaway. Later, when Frankie arrives home, she learns that Berenice is nursing John Henry, who has become gravely ill. Several months pass, and Frankie, who has made a new friend and is much more confident, enters the room to say goodbye to Berenice. John Henry has died, and because Frankie's family is moving in with the boy's mother, they no longer need a housekeeper. Berenice muses sadly on both the death of John Henry and on Honey's ten-year prison sentence, but Frankie, her mind on the handsome boy down the street, brightly delivers her farewell and skips out of the house. With tears in her eyes and a sad smile on her face, Berenice hums quietly to herself.