From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
Los Angeles is made to stand in for New York, interiors were filmed at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, standing in for the Met. No real effort has been made to disguise the fact, you can recognize some of the paintings.
Is that angel by Michelangelo? In Cole’s next two films for television, The Christmas Box and Timepiece, angelic messengers bear tidings that are not understood at first. The surprising aspect of an angel thus represents winged thought, something over one’s head.
Doubtless the satirical impulse is directed toward the City of Angels, or its critics.
The Christmas Box
The teleplay is an enviable composition of great insight and acumen. The great lady has a bit of a brogue, her caretaker has a profession which never has appealed to her, he runs a ski shop, speeding down a mountain on two pieces of wood is not her idea of anything.
Cole’s direction is harmonious and particularly good at conveying the incidental notion of angels as messengers in the sense of thoughts intuited from the surroundings or from other people and so symbolized until they are understood.
The acting is led by Maureen O’Hara through Richard Thomas and down to little Kelsey Mulrooney, all of it equally good.
The teleplay by Richard Fielder is as intricate as its title would suggest, and quite conscious of the fact. It will give some measure of the scope to say that among its tiny springs and wheels, James Earl Jones lifts the ban on Joel Chandler Harris and Song of the South in two brief and unforgettable scenes. Further material echoes To Kill a Mockingbird and Penny Serenade.
The Forties are evoked with visible effort and great success. “To hell with your theatre socks,” said Murphy, “it’s your mind I want.”
Overwhelmingly, the idea is of heaping coals on an enemy’s head. In this, as in all things, “God loveth a cheerful giver.”