B&W, 118 min.
Released: June 11, 1952 (Paramount)
Cast: Jennifer Jones (as Carrie Meeber), Laurence Olivier, Eddie Albert, Miriam Hopkins, Basil Ruysdael
Director: William Wyler
Producer: William Wyler, Lester Koenig
Complete Credits at IMDB
Carrie is based on Theodore Dreiser's classic novel, Sister Carrie, about the rise of a small town girl and the eventual demise of the wealthy man who loves her.
Carrie Meeber, a vulnerable and dependent soul, leaves her small town in Missouri to live with her married sister in Chicago. She finds life to be very grim in her sister's staunch household and she is not cut out for the harsh working conditions in a shoe factory. When Carrie loses her job, she turns to Charlie Drouet, a salesman that she had met on the train, and he offers her his flat while he is away on business. Charlie later introduces Carrie to George Hurstwood, a distinguished restaurant manager. George falls in love with Carrie but Carrie does not know that he has a wife and children. George's boss disapproves of the affair and begins to pay George's salary to George's wife Julie. In a desperate attempt to have Carrie, George steals $10,000 from the restaurant's safe and takes Carrie to New York. A bondsmen finds them and George returns the money but loses his job.
George is unable to find work and Carrie becomes pregnant. They are soon reduced to living in a cheap apartment. In a meeting with his wife and her lawyer, George signs away all of his personal property in order to obtain his wife's signature for a divorce. Carrie loses her baby and finally leaves George when she believes that he can find solace with his son and his new wife.
Carrie finds work on the stage and eventually becomes a successful actress. George, however, never confronts his son but instead becomes a beggar on the streets. Carrie unsuccessfully tries to locate George, but one night he appears backstage and asks her for some money to buy food. Carrie brings him into her dressing room and leaves to order food for him. George briefly contemplates turning on the gas stove to commit suicide, but then takes one coin from Carrie's purse and returns to the street.
Carrie was filmed in 1950 but it was not released until June 1952. Paramount executives were unsure how to market the film and they feared that the film's downbeat tone would be frowned upon during the McCarthy era. The film did poorly when it was released and was Jennifer's fifth box office disappointment in a row.
Carrie is an excellently crafted film. It was directed by the great William Wyler and featured one of Laurence Olivier's best screen performances. However, the film is so depressing and oppressive that most viewers are just glad when it is over. It seems that George Hurstwood has the worst luck imaginable and it only keeps getting worse as the film progressives. The last half of Carrie is very difficult to watch.
Laurence Olivier clearly steals the show in Carrie. It is a masterful performance that evokes both sympathy and scorn. Olivier took the part so that he could be in Hollywood near his wife Vivien Leigh (who was filming A Streetcar Named Desire.) Jennifer is physically ideal for Carrie Meeber, as one critic said, "she looks like she stepped out of the pages of the book" and her acting here is one of her most accomplished. She was pregnant at the time (she later had a miscarriage shortly after the completion of the film). Miriam Hopkins was quite adept as Julie Hurstwood, George's disdainful wife. And Eddie Albert was perfect as Charlie Drouet.
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