Journalist Steve O'Malley wants to write a biography of a national hero who died when his car ran off a bridge. Steve receives conflicting reports and tales that make him question what the truth about the hero is.
Londoners Arnold and Evelyn Boult had high hopes for the life of their son, Edward. His relatively short life ended up being one of privilege but irresponsibility. His life ended at age 23 ... See full summary »
American military leader and war hero Robert Forrester, universally beloved and respected within the country and thus touted as Presidential material, has just died in a freak car accident on his sprawling estate, where, during an unexpected rainstorm, the car he was driving plunged over a ravine as he didn't notice the washed-out bridge. While the nation mourns, the national reporters descend on his small hometown to write the story of the incident. One reporter who won't is renowned Steven O'Malley, who wants instead to write an in-depth piece on the man to preserve his status within the public consciousness. Although happy to use official documents and records, O'Malley wants most specifically to speak to his wife, Christine Forrester, which may be a difficult task as she has refused to grant any interviews as a very private person. O'Malley is able to meet with Christine in person, and although she is reluctant to oblige his request at first, she is convinced by Robert's aide, ...Written by
When Christine runs into the Arsenal to burn the paperwork, she's wearing flat shoes. Inside the Arsenal, she's wearing the high-heeled pumps that she'd been wearing in the immediately preceding scene; in other arsenal sequences the style of her shoes also changes from one scene to another. See more »
Hero fever, I call it. Very modern. Ever since we've been getting out of touch with God, we've been pushovers for it. And the young get it the worst of all.
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This film is early in the Tracy-Hepburn canon, and not widely regarded as one of their best efforts. The thing is, coming out so shortly after their landmark Woman Of the year, it isn't properly a Tracy-Hepburn vehicle so much as a George Cukor-Donald Ogden Stewart movie in which they happen to appear.
It is the story of a newspaperman (Tracy) out to investigate the circumstances behind the death of a much beloved American hero, meets and falls in love with the man's widow (Hepburn)who, along with everyone else whoever knew the man, seems to be harboring some dark secrets as to the true nature of his character. The film owes some obvious debts to Citizen Kane in being the inside scoop on a recently deceased man presumed to be great but who was in actuality something else altogether. In its somber mood, forbidding mansion, enigmatic and generally paranoid aspect, Keeper of the Flame suggests Kane in many regards, but is, to be fair, its own film.
Tracy and Hepburn play their roles exceedingly well. The supporting cast is well-chosen, and Percy Kilbride does a nice turn as a cab-driver; while Margaret Wycherly is scarifying as the dead man's mad mother; and a young, Aryan-looking-as-all-getout Forrest Tucker scoots about on a motorcycle like he'd join Hitler's minions at the drop of a hat. Richard Whorf in what at the time must have seemed a 'daring' performance, plays a fussy secretary to the dead hero in a manner which suggests a combination of repressed mania and strong homosexual tendencies. His character is wholly unbelievable but awfully fun to watch.
The movie has a dark, gothic cast to it, and was obviously filmed on a studio back-lot, but the result is not so much unreality as the suggestion of a fairy tale or a fable strangely consistent with the film's intent, and hence satisfying, making its woods and country roads look at times like a weird and twisted perversion of a Norman Rockwell painting.
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