The Member of the Wedding, Julie Harris, Brandon deWilde, Ethel Waters, 1952

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1 month ago

“THE MEMBER OF THE WEDDING would have to be among some of the best American Films. It is American cinema at its most elevated and humane, and in a strange, oblique kind of way says more about the pain, (that was once so commonplace), of being black in the USA, than many other films that deal with this issue more directly. The story is so universal, and through its many metaphors applies to so many of life’s experiences; it is full of compassion, humane values, humor, and irony; it both warms and breaks the heart.

Every single role is acted superbly by a fine ensemble of players, but the three main characters, Julie Harris, Ethel Waters, and Brandon De Wilde, are quite simply perfect and give performances that could not be bettered. The scene where the three sit together in the growing darkness of the kitchen and sing `His Eye Is On The Sparrow’ must surely rank as one of the most sublime and moving moments in world cinema. I have watched this film on countless occasions and never fail to marvel at its artistry, and too, how it reflects human values of worth and merit,, whenever I have introduced the film to others who didn’t know it, they have never failed to thank me profusely for doing so.

Fred Zinnemann once said in an interview that it was his personal favorite of all the films he made, and I agree with him, but I would qualify his statement further by stating it is amongst the finest films that anybody has ever made! All technical values are first-rate, and yet again, Alex North came up with a brilliant musical score that added yet one more layer of sheer excellence.

A film every American should watch and be proud of; not in a negative nationalistic sort of way, but in a common, shared-humanity way! Non-Americans of course should also watch it, and see a positive side of American values, and, like me, be grateful to Columbia for bringing to fruition such a risky commercial proposition. It may not have broken box-office records, but it is a true treasure in the pantheon of American cinema. One of the truly great films of all time.”

Julie Harris
Frankie Addams
Brandon deWilde
John Henry
Ethel Waters
Berenice Sadie Brown
Harry Bolden
T.T. Williams
James Edwards
Honey Camden Brown
Nancy Gates
Janice
Arthur Franz
Jarvis Addams
Dickie Moore
Soldier

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