Love is Better Than Ever

Overview

Though completed in 1950, Love Is Better Than Ever was held back from release until 1952, due in great part to the "political undesirability" of star Larry Parks, whose career was effectively ruined after he humbled himself before the House Un-American Activities Committee. Parks plays Broadway talent agent Jud Parker, who takes a fancy to small-town dance teacher Anastacia Macaboy Elizabeth Taylor. Parker wines and dines Anastacia during her visit to New York for the purposes of seduction. But the girl assumes ...
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Overview

Though completed in 1950, Love Is Better Than Ever was held back from release until 1952, due in great part to the "political undesirability" of star Larry Parks, whose career was effectively ruined after he humbled himself before the House Un-American Activities Committee. Parks plays Broadway talent agent Jud Parker, who takes a fancy to small-town dance teacher Anastacia Macaboy Elizabeth Taylor. Parker wines and dines Anastacia during her visit to New York for the purposes of seduction. But the girl assumes that his intentions are honorable, and sends word of her "impending" engagement to her hometown newspaper. With his reputation on the line, Parker agrees to confirm the engagement if asked, with the understanding that he doesn't really mean it. Rest assured that by fade-out time, he will mean it. Gene Kelly makes an unbilled cameo appearance in Love Is Better Than Ever, which also features such reliables as Ann Doran, Kathleen Freeman, and Dick Wessel.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Bruce Eder
Completed in 1950, when Elizabeth Taylor was a thoroughly radiant 18-year-old, Love Is Better Than Ever ended up being one of the actress' lesser-known films, held back from release for two years due to the presence of Larry Parks as the picture's co-star. Parks had run into trouble because of his testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee and had been blacklisted from the movie industry after 1950. The delay in the release and the less-than-full measure of publicity and distribution accorded the movie rendered it one of Taylor's most obscure MGM films, which was unfortunate, both for fans of the actress and for filmgoers in general. Love Is Better Than Ever has its flaws, to be sure; placing oneself in the context of the time in which it was made, it seems a little too complex to be the light entertainment vehicle that would have made it an easy sell, but it also lacks the air of self-conscious importance that a "serious" movie was supposed to display. But it also offers Elizabeth Taylor in a role that's years ahead of its time, as an intelligent, sensitive, thoughtful, and talented young woman, with a career in front of her but also a fully, thoroughly romantic side to her being. Director Stanley Donen, who reportedly had a serious romantic involvement with Taylor, gave her every chance to shine onscreen and she does, playing a part that, in some respects, wasn't too far-removed from where she was in her own life -- more downscale, but basically a bright and beautiful young woman with life, career, and marriage okay, many marriages, as reality worked out ahead of her. And Larry Parks has great success essaying a very difficult role, somewhere between a good-natured regular guy and a total heel, bringing a palpable, realistic agony to a character who can't make up his mind whether it's better to stay single and free, or take the previously unthinkable plunge into marriage with a woman he can't quite get over -- on whom, in the vernacular of the time, he's "stuck." What makes this movie so unusual when seen today is that it's the distaff point-of-view about love and romance and career that drives the plot. The screenwriter, Ruth Brooks Flippen, who was later part of the production team behind the Marlo Thomas television series That Girl, makes this a uniquely female-centered non-soap opera feature film, freely mixing comedy and drama in a way that only would have confused audiences in the early '50s. Taylor's Anastacia "Staci" Macaboy is the not-so-distant antecedent to Marlo Thomas' Ann Marie in the later series -- instead of a Brewster, NY-based would-be actress, Taylor is a New Haven, CT-based dance teacher who finds more than an enhancement to her career when she spends some time in New York City. And Donen doesn't neglect the actress' physical appeal -- there's a scene in her family's living room in which she massages Parks' strained shoulder and the camera lingers on her fully clothed body about as closely, and lovingly, and quietly erotically as any shot in a mainstream movie of the era. Her and Parks' subsequent love scene is as sweetly romantic and erotic as anything ever seen in a non-musical MGM movie; Donen obviously adored the actress and makes that adoration the center of that sequence. He also leaves plenty of room for Parks' character to shine, providing much of the comedy in his harried reaction to Taylor's serious feelings about their attraction. The two leads get lots of help in some fine supporting performances, by Tom Tully as Taylor's unexpectedly understanding father; Josephine Hutchinson as her very protective mother; Kathleen Freeman who steals every shot she's in as a helpful seamstress; and Dick Wessel, Dave Willock, and Alex Gerry as the Broadway denizens who comprise Parks' coterie of friends. It's still sometimes an awkward mix in the transitions, between the Broadway scenes and the New Haven sequences, and the overcoming of Parks' character's cynicism is a little too sketchy -- at times, one feels this is a Damon Runyon story laced with a very big dose of estrogen, and fighting its effects. But overall Love Is Better Than Ever is a diverting little jewel of a romance, more advanced than it had a right to be in 1950 or 1952, and a lot of fun today.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 7/21/2009
  • UPC: 883316173572
  • Original Release: 1952
  • Rating:

  • Source: Warner Archives
  • Presentation: B&W / Pan & Scan
  • Time: 1:21:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 33,579

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Larry Parks Jud Parker
Elizabeth Taylor Anastacia Macaboy
Elinor Donahue Pattie Marie Levoy
Josephine Hutchinson Mrs. Macaboy
Tom Tully Mr. Macaboy
Ann Doran Mrs. Levoy
Kathleen Freeman Mrs. Kahrney
Doreen McCann Albertina Kahrney
Alex Gerry Hamlet
Gail Bonney Mrs. Oelschlager
Mae Clarke Mrs. Ireland
Lucille Curtis Mother
Dan Foster
Jack George
Tom Hanlon Announcer
Frank Hyers Bernie
Richard Karlan Siddo
Gene Kelly Guest Star
William "Bill" Phillips Mr. Khourney
Nancy Saunders Pauline
Ann Tyrrell Mrs. Whitney
Dick Wessel Smittie
Bertil Unger Randie Dean
Technical Credits
Stanley Donen Director
George Boemler Editor
Ruth Brooks Flippen Screenwriter
Cedric Gibbons Art Director
Lennie Hayton Score Composer, Musical Direction/Supervision
Helen Rose Costumes/Costume Designer
Harold Hal Rosson Cinematographer
Gabriel Scognamillo Art Director
William H. Wright Producer
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