review for Johnny Belinda on AllMovie

Johnny Belinda (1948)
by Richard Gilliam review

Johnny Belinda features a superb performance from Jane Wyman in the title role and a well-crafted story without the overtly happy ending common to this type of "personal triumph" drama. Filmed in effective black-and-white by Ted D. McCord, the studio recreation of a Nova Scotia fishing village is convincing, while director Jean Negulesco underplays many scenes, allowing the performances to resonate with the material. Ironically, Negulesco was fired late in the production of the film, when studio execs saw that he was avoiding the sort of tear-jerking sentimentality that they had expected. Because it would have been too expensive to re-shoot the entire picture, the studio reluctantly released it pretty much as Negulesco had wanted. The result was Warner Bros.' biggest hit of the year. This is another example of how films with strong, non-traditional women as the central character became more prominent in the post-WWII era. The film was nominated for a near-record twelve Academy Awards, though Wyman's Best Actress Oscar was the only category in which it won.