Jan De Hartog Walter Kerr - Essay

Walter Kerr

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[The Fourposter] is such a plain affair, and its humors hew so close to the easily predictable, that it is hard to work up any honest enthusiasm for it.

Mr. de Hartog is concerned with a marriage which manages to scrape through thirty-five years and an assortment of minor tempests. The familiar landmarks are all here: the almost-errant husband, the almost-wayward son, and the ultimate despair of a mother who feels that she has come to the end of her life without having done anything but rear children. The trouble with this particular restatement of conventional, though still valid, materials is that no distinctive insight has been brought to bear on them. The details are neatly worked out; they are true so far as they go; and they do not go much farther than the standard family jokes and embarrassments which are told to visiting relatives. There is a literary dryness throughout, as though the author had resisted the storyteller's temptation to improve on the actual event, and I, at least, found the evening unnecessarily pale.

Walter Kerr, "The Screen: 'The Fourposter'," in Commonweal (copyright © 1951 Commonweal Publishing Co., Inc.; copyright renewed © 1979 by Commonweal Publishing Co.; reprinted by permission of Commonweal Publishing Co., Inc.), Vol. LV, No. 5, November 9, 1951, p. 118.