There was in the original bestseller of Herman Wouk an attempt to isolate and examine a particular segment of American life, the upper middle class Jewish stratum of Manhattan. Producer Milton Sperling has kept some aspects of the original idea, the characters are still part of their racial and religious background, but the Jewish flavor has been watered down.
Natalie Wood gives a glowing and touching performance as the title heroine. Gene Kelly is moving as her romantic vis-a-vis, Claire Trevor and Everett Sloane are strong in support and Martin Milner is an important younger leading man. Ed Wynn is the standout as Marjorie’s Uncle Samson.
The title is the clue to the story. When Marjorie changes her name from Morgenstern to Morningstar, she unwittingly cuts herself off from her Jewish background and plunges without support into a world of no visible connections and even less stability. She falls in love with Kelly, one of those fascinating men of small talent who flourish in the theatrical fringe of Broadway. He has changed his name, too, and the resulting rootlessness has left him uneasy and unsatisfied, although he never truly understands why. Marjorie caroms from his rejection to a doctor (Martin Balsam). Always standing by is hardworking playwright Milner.
1958: Nomination: Best Song (‘A Very Precious Love’)