THE RETURN OF OCTOBER (1948)
Article 2709 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 10-3-2008
Posting Date: 1-12-2009
Directed by Joseph H. Lewis
Featuring Glenn Ford, Terry Moore, Albert Sharpe
A spunky heiress begins to believe a race horse is the reincarnation of her deceased Uncle Willie. Complications arise when a psychology professor plans to write a paper about the obsession of the heiress.
The fantastic content here is ambiguous; we never really know whether the race horse (October by name) is indeed the heiress’s late Uncle Willie (who, in his human form, is played by the great character actor James Gleason). This is appropriate, as the story itself hinges upon this fact. Still, that doesn’t mean the story is strong; it’s seems as if it’s modeled off of MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET in many ways, but the plot is so contrived and loaded with cliches that it makes things far more predictable than it should be. For the most part, the acting redeems the movie, with Glenn Ford in particular giving his character a sense of reality that helps ground things a bit. Unfortunately, our heroine is one of those combinations of aggressive cuteness combined with tomboyish spunkiness that verges more on the annoying than the irresistible, and she’s the character we spend most of our time with. The heiress subplot is extremely hackneyed and predictable, but there are clever moments here and there; my favorite has the psychologist debunking his own paper in court. The ending scene replicates what the US Postal Service did for Kris Kringle in MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET, but the situation presented is so contrived as to be unbelievable. It’s not really a bad movie, but it doesn’t quite work when all is said and done.