Magnificent Doll (1946)

Genres - Drama, Historical Film  |   Sub-Genres - Biopic [feature]  |   Run Time - 93 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Any biography, or biographical picture for that matter, is going to rise or fall on the personality and life of the subject, which should mean that Magnificent Doll would rise to the top. After all, Dolly Madison is the epitome of a colorful character and lived during a period of time that was rife with action, much of which involved her both directly and indirectly. How, then, did Doll turn out to be a terribly dull and uninvolving film? Largely because the screenwriter stuck to tried and true Hollywood practice in making biopics and replaced the enticing, intriguing truth with a bowdlerized, fictionalized account that makes use of any cliché at hand. To make matters worse, writer Irving Stone has weighed Doll down with dialogue that is ponderous, arch and clumsy. Director Frank Borzage is quite off his form here and unable to inject any life into the story; indeed, he manages to make even the surefire sequence in which Dolly saves the nation's most cherished historic documents into something that blah and colorless. The talented Ginger Rogers is miscast in the title role, and David Niven overdoes his role. Only Burgess Meredith, in a quiet but commanding performance, brings interest to the story. The film has a fine look and some lovely costumes, but it's a bore.