Based on the Thornton Wilder Broadway hit, Shirley Booth takes the Ruth Gordon stage role of ‘marriage counsellor’, dominating character in this yarn of 1884. Its period unfoldment permits added opportunity for laughs, some of the belly genre. The Yonkers screenplay catches every nuance of the situation of the widowed Booth ostensibly seeking a wife for the grasping Yonkers merchant (Paul Ford) while adroitly plotting to capture him for her own. Use of ‘asides’ by various principals, speaking directly into the camera, peppers the action.
Most of the story unreels in New York, where Ford goes from nearby Yonkers to propose to Shirley MacLaine, a man-hungry milliner, and to meet a sexpot promised by Booth, who against his will has taken over Ford’s romantic interests. Following Ford are the two over-worked clerks in his general store (Anthony Perkins and Robert Morse) who pool their resources and determine to live it up in the big city, with 10 bucks between them.
Booth is no less than superb in her role, draining part of comedic possibilities. Perkins’ switch to farce is also a bright experience. Ford is immense as the romantically-inclined but tight small-towner, and MacLaine is pert and lovely. Morse, from the original Broadway cast, amusingly enacts Perkins’ pardner.