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The Shrike

The Shrike(1955)

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According to a February 1952 NYT news item, screen rights to The Shrike, Joseph Kramm's Pulitzer Prize-winning play, incited a bidding war between Paramount, Twentieth Century-Fox and M-G-M. In late October 1952, a Hollywood Reporter news item announced that Ida Lupino would co-star with Jos Ferrer and that Lupino and her then husband, Collier Young, would produce for RKO. In September 1953, Los Angeles Herald Express reported that Ferrer, who had produced, directed and starred in the play on Broadway, was teaming with Columbia to direct the film version. The Shrike marked Ferrer's feature film directorial and producing debut. As noted in studio press materials, most of the film's actors also appeared in the play, including Kendall Clark and Somer Alberg. Although the play ends on a dour note, promising no hope for "Jim" and "Ann," writer Ketti Frings added the film's more positive conclusion, described by studio press materials as "completely in keeping with the wider screen horizons."
       Critics praised June Allyson's performance, noting that the role provided the actress with her first opportunity to play an unsympathetic character. Most of the film was shot on location outside Times Square and in the Bellevue psychiatric hospital in New York City. October 1954 HR news items add Helen Spring to the cast, but her appearance in the released film has not been confirmed. The Shrike marked the only film performance for Isabel Bonner, the wife of playwright Kramm. Bonner, who played both "Dr. Barrow" and "Ann Downs" on Broadway, died of a brain hemorrhage on July 15, 1955 while performing in the play in Los Angeles.