A Blast from the Past: NY Times Review of “Lydia Bailey” the Movie

Lydia BaileyHere’s a nice blast from the past – a movie review (NY Times, May 31, 1952) on the movie “Lydia Bailey” based upon Kenneth Roberts’ novel with the same title.  The movie starred Dale Robertson as Albion Hamlin (main character) and Anne Francis (Lydia Bailey).  (See NY Times overview of the movie here or IMBD’s overview here.)

Apparently, the reviewer did not like the movie; the reviewer accuses Roberts of ignoring historical fact when writing this novel:

The strite-ridden out colorful history of Haiti’s struggle for independence, which has attracted such noted writers as Eugene O’Neill and Kenneth Roberts, has been fancifully warped in “Lydia Bailey,” Twentieth Century-Fox’s Technicolor version of Mr. Roberts’ novel, which turned up at the Roxy yesterday. Neither Mr. Roberts—whose canvas, incidentally, encompassed a much wider area than just Haiti—nor the scenarists were interested in documenting facts. Thus, this period adventure, which merely nods to history on occasion, succeeds in being a briskly paced, swashbuckling yarn in which an American lawyer’s search for and romance with a beautiful heiress is a prop for plots, warfare, hairbreadth escapes and multi-hued jungle scenery (emphasis mine).

I admit, Lydia Bailey is not my favorite K.R. novel; I felt the romance aspect was a bit forced and was given too much attention.  Nevertheless, the accusation that Kenneth Roberts occasionally gives a nod to history is quite a strong claim considering the detail and attention Roberts’ gave to historical fact in his research and earlier writings – so, in light of the fact the reviewer gave no support for his claim, I find it an unfair accusation against Roberts, finding the claim more of an opinion of someone who did not like the movie.

Interesting: here’s a link to a Lydia Bailey movie poster on ebay.

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One Response

  1. [...] Lydia Bailey was based on the book by the same name which was authored by Kenneth Roberts. You can find out more about this from Danny McDonald blog (Kennethlroberts) in his post  A Blast from the Past: NY Times Review of “Lydia Bailey” the Movie. [...]

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