Due an injury to my left hand, repetitive strain injury, my blog of this film will have to be a highly abbreviated review of the film. I’m wring this blog with just my right hand, so you’ll have to forgive any errors. –Tom
I first saw the film on PBS. My opinion of it at that point in time, the mid-seventies, was that it wasn’t anything special. After viewing it a few times in the past month, and dong some research on the film itself, my opinion has changed 180 degrees. The film is an excellent piece of work. The acting is one of the problems. Shelley Winters specifically.
The film documents the lives of eight people in hiding. The Frank family and the van Daan family. For some reason I have yet to understand the script had the van Daan family arrive first in the annex, the hiding spot. The Frank family followed soon after the van Daan family. Shelley Winters moans, groans, and whines when the Franks don’t appear as scheduled. She claims the “green police” have captured them. “The Green Police” are so named because of their green uniforms. The Frank family just had to take a longer route from their home to the annex.
When Anne arrives at what will be her home for the next two years its July 1942 she wears a glum expression. But she doesn’t seem to understand the gravity of her situation, and treats moving into to annex as an adventure. That’s when we first see Anne. She’s just come through the front door of the building where she’ll be for the next two years.
Millie Perkins did a fine job portraying Anne, but her naiveté got on my nerves at times. Her attitude was simply too up beat and optimistic at times. At times I found it hard to believe this person understood what was happening all around her.
After her father explains all the rules they must strictly obey everyone goes to their respective rooms, but not before Shelley Winters argues about the sleeping arrangements. A screen capture from this part of the film shows you her face – it’s a worried face. But every other person involved in the production is concerned. So she isn’t special.
After the close of business that day everyone can move around. Anne’s father presents her with a present, a box containing clippings of her favorite film stars, a portrait of the queen of the Netherlands, and a diary (in reality it was an autograph book).
I was pleasantly surprised at the performances of Lou Jacobi as Mr van Daan. The way he put up with with abuse doled out from Shelley Winters was superhuman. Joseph Schildkraut was astonishing. He was the voice of reason when all hell (Mr. van Daan stole food) broke loose. I think the best part of this film are the parts the parts that made the viewer think, look a little harder, and want to learn more about every one in the diary.
There was one line of dialog that almost made me retch considering it came from a person who was so close to death. Anne Frank spoke this minutes before she was arrested – “I still believe in spite of everything that people are really good at heart”.
An excellent film, but it had facets that could have been polished a bit more. If you get a chance I suggest you watch it. You’ll learn something. You won’t be able to help it.