Ruby Gentry is a fairly involving Southern melodrama that suffers from crucial miscasting in two keys roles and a not always believable screenplay. Charlton Heston is the lesser of the miscasting problems. Heston looks very good and physically is appropriate for the character, but he lacks any real charm and plays Boake at such a superficial level that viewers are left wondering why Ruby is so obsessed with him. Much more problematic is Jennifer Jones, an actress who can be quite effective when well cast, but whose range is somewhat constrained. Ruby is far outside her capabilities, requiring an actress who is more of a force of nature than Jones and who is believable as a character whose passions and emotions are all-consuming. A young Joan Crawford or (if more sympathy were desired) Barbara Stanwyck is what is required; Jones can only indicate the passion, fire, and determination that these other ladies were born with. Added to the casting problems is the fact that the screenplay traffics in a few too many clichés and doesn't really delve into the characters, resulting in a film that feels sketchy and forced. Director King Vidor does what he can, and he does provide some lovely individual moments; he's also helped by a solid supporting cast, with fine work from Karl Malden and Bernard Phillips and an especially nice, subtle turn from Josephine Hutchinson. All this can't overcome Ruby's central problems, but it does make them more tolerable.
by Craig Butler review