The Cobweb (1955)

Director: Vincente Minnelli

Writers: John Paxton (screenplay) William Gibson (additional dialogue)

  • Richard Widmark … Dr. Stewart ‘Mac’ McIver
  • Lauren Bacall … Meg Faversen Rinehart
  • Charles Boyer … Dr. Douglas N. Devanal
  • Gloria Grahame … Karen McIver
  • Lillian Gish … Victoria Inch
  • John Kerr … Steven W. Holte
  • Susan Strasberg … Sue Brett
  • Oscar Levant … Mr. Capp
  • Paul Stewart … Dr. Otto Wolff
  • Jarma Lewis … Lois Y. Demuth
  • Adele Jergens … Miss Cobb
  • Edgar Stehli … Mr. Holcomb
  • Sandy Descher … Rosemary McIver
  • Bert Freed … Abe Irwin
  • Mabel Albertson … Regina Mitchell-Smyth
  • Lillian-Gish-Cobweb-on-set-reading

Marks the return of Lillian Gish to MGM after a 22-year absence. The Cobweb certainly has every bit of the lush color and striking compositions you find in something like Minnelli’s Gigi. It has standout work from John Kerr, Oscar Levant, Susan Strasberg, Charles Boyer, Lillian Gish and above all Gloria Grahame. What it doesn’t have is a huge emotional hook. Shock Corridor (and Anatole Litvak’s The Snake Pit, from 1948) also bring up questions of who’s truly insane: the inmates, their keepers or the world at large. In its genteel way, though, the Minnelli, with its posh setting and leisurely pace, makes the strongest case for the craziness of the keepers.

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