Ten North Frederick (1958)

Genres - Drama, Romance  |   Run Time - 102 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

Although 10 North Frederick wants to be a serious drama, it falls short of its goals, ending up a high class soap opera. Indeed, the film's failed aspirations unintentionally mirror those of its protagonist, a good man who falls victim to both flaws and virtues of his own character. Frederick is certainly watchable, thanks mainly to its cast, but one watches it wishing that the screenplay were stronger and that the direction were more incisive. The original John O'Hara novel upon which it is based is not a great work of art, but the characters are presented therein with a greater degree of complexity. The film's main character retains a greater degree of complexity than the supporting cast, but the complexity is never adequately explained or explored; at the same time, the tone is not detached or observational enough to allow a "draw your own conclusions" approach. Certainly, Gary Cooper does his best with the role, which allows him to stretch his acting muscles in some directions that than many of his better-known roles did not. Cooper is quite good -- but even better is Geraldine Fitzgerald, whose icy, ambitious wife manages to steal scenes even when she's not in them. Diane Varsi is good as the daughter, and model Suzy Parker turns in what is arguably the best performance of her career. Frederick is not a great movie, but the cast -- especially Fitzgerald make it much more than watchable.