Classic Film Guide

Johnny Belinda (1948)

Jane Wyman's breakout performance (Best Actress Oscar) as a deaf-mute also stars Lew Ayres, Agnes Moorehead, and Charles Bickford (all three were Oscar nominated). Ayres plays small town Dr. Robert Richardson, who takes a professional interest in Belinda McDonald (Wyman), teaching her sign language, even though her own father Black (Bickford), and his sister Aggie (Moorehead) resist it. The doctor's relationship with his student leads to love, and she "blossoms". This attracts unwanted attention from Locky McCormick (Stephen McNally), who rapes her causing the town to suspect that Dr. Richardson is responsible (e.g. since she can't speak out to tell the truth). Further tragedy follows, causing Belinda to need a defense attorney (Alan Napier). The film, its director (Jean Negulesco), its Writing (Irma von Cube & Alllen Vincent earned their only Academy recognition adapting Elmer Harris's play), Editing (David Weisbart's only nomination), Sound, Max Steiner Score, and B&W Art Direction-Set Decoration & Cinematography were all nominated for Oscars.

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