Ten North Frederick

1958, Movie, NR, 102 mins


A confusing movie from a complex book with a performance by Cooper that almost manages to save the story. The picture begins in 1945 with Cooper's funeral, then goes into flashback. Icy Fitzgerald is a woman who has great plans for her quiet husband, Cooper. He's a good, gentle man who lives in the shadow of his grandfather, the onetime lieutenant governor of the state. Cooper is a wealthy lawyer, happy with his comfortable life. Fitzgerald wants more and realizes that the only way she can achieve power is through Cooper, so she prods the reluctant man into thinking about a political career. She persuades him to make a large donation to Tully, a bigwig in the party, so he can get a nomination. Tully has nothing but disdain for Cooper and his amateurish attempts to get into the political arena. Cooper and Fitzgerald have a daughter, Varsi, who falls in love with and marries musician Whitman, a jazz trumpeter. Fitzgerald tries to break up the marriage but Varsi becomes pregnant and suffers a miscarriage after she and her mother have an argument. In the background is Cooper's son, Stricklyn, who loves his gentleman father and knows exactly what kind of a harridan his mother is. Cooper slips Whitman some money to get out of Varsi's life, and the young woman's heart is broken. Cooper didn't want to arrange for the annulment, but he was again prodded by shrewish Fitzgerald who is certain she knows what's best for everyone. Tully has been looking for an excuse to get rid of the obligation he owes Cooper for the money donated, so he makes sure the press gets wind of what's happened with Varsi. At the same time, Fitzgerald is having an affair, and Cooper's life is falling to pieces around him. Varsi has moved to New York (she did the same thing the year before in PEYTON PLACE) and Cooper, hoping to reassemble the shards of his existence, travels there from Pennsylvania to try to patch things up. He meets Varsi's roommate, the gorgeous Parker, and the two of them fall in love and begin a May-December romance. This goes on until Cooper realizes that there is just too much difference between their ages (he was actually 57 and she was 25), so he breaks it off. Later, Cooper discovers he is suffering from a terminal illness. Just before Cooper dies, Stricklyn brings Varsi home and they reconcile. Back in the present, Stricklyn tells Fitzgerald off as the picture fades out.

The novel by O'Hara was not very good, and neither was this movie. Parker was excellent, believable, and much more than the model that everyone thought she was, but her career never took off. Charles Bronson, who had worked with Cooper in VERA CRUZ and U.S.S TEAKETTLE, turns up in a cameo. In a small role with Bronson, see if you can recognize the man who played the Russian representative in ROCKY IV, Michael Pataki. leave a comment

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Ten North Frederick
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