“JOHNNY BELINDA” 1948.
After a long hiatus of not watching this film, I decided to pull it off my shelf last night and watch it. It’s been a long time since I seen this last, so when I watched it last night it was like watching it for the first time. What put me off is the fact that Barbara Stanwyck was nominated for her role in “Sorry Wrong Number” the same year as Jane Wyman won the Oscar for best actress in “Johnny Belinda”. Anyway I’m glad that I gave this movie a second chance and put my incorrigibility behind me, because I absolutely loved this movie, and I can easily see why Jane Wyman won the Oscar for best actress.
Jane Wyman steals the screen in her momentous portrayal of Belinda McDonald, a deaf mute who lives with her father and aunt Aggie ( Charles Bickford and Agnes Moorehead ) on a farm in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Unable to hear or communicate, she is considered obtuse and innocuous by her family and other locals around town. When Dr. Robert Richardson ( Lew Ayres ) arrives in Cape Breton he becomes interested in Belinda and realizes that she is intelligent. He sets out to help Belinda by teaching her sign language and lip reading. Problems arise when Belinda is raped by Locky McCormick, an impenitent local fisherman. All hopes are crushed when the family discover that Belinda is pregnant. Not able to correspond and express the iniquity only causes speculation when the whole town starts insinuating about Belinda and Dr. Richardson.
Jane Wyman was superb in the role as Belinda, and was really believable with her antics in portraying a deaf person. After witnessing Jane Wyman’s prodigious portrayal of Belinda I can definitely say that her Oscar was well warranted. In fact I feel that this film deserves more credit than what it has acquired. Agnes Moorehead also delivered an Oscar worthy performance, and it’s a shame that she never received more accolades for her role as Aunt Aggie.
To me Jane Wyman is such an underrated actress. With a long resume of successful films and meritorious performances, she deserves a higher status in Hollywood’s golden era than what she has attained.