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The Mark Movie Review

fuller whitman child schell

The recidivism rate for child molesters is so high that no one in his or her right mind would want to place a child in the unsupervised care of a known pedophile. That said, The Mark plans a unique form of violence on the viewer. Stuart Whitman gives the finest performance of his career as convicted child molester Jim Fuller. Fuller has served his time in prison, and has also received intensive therapy from Dr. McNally (Rod Steiger). He wants to become a useful member of society, but his past has shattered him, drained his confidence, and turned him into a haunted, hesitant man, terrified of nearly every emotional impulse. (God, what a part this must have been for Whitman to play!) He meets Ruth Leighton (Maria Schell) at his new job and they become friends. Ruth, a single mother with a young daughter named Janie (Amanda Black), is aware that Fuller has experienced deep unhappiness, but so has she, and she knows nothing about his conviction for child molestation. Janie, starved for a father figure in her life, adores Fuller, but he distances himself from her need for affection. Meanwhile, his friendship with her mother evolves into a romance. Well, you can see where all this is leading—it's only a matter of time before Fuller's past and present collide, and they do, thanks to an investigative reporter. The underlying theme is that since Jim Fuller has been “cured,” Society should give him another chance to lead a normal life. This was a kindly perspective for 1961, but it's also gobbledy-gook. The viewpoint here is that if Ruth is really in love with him, she must trust him alone with her daughter because he's “cured.” They can all be a normal family and Fuller can forget his past. Well, it's only a movie, and the filmmakers meant well, but that may explain why you don't see The Mark too often on television. Maria Schell and Rod Steiger are ideally cast as Ruth and Dr. McNally, and Stuart Whitman's moving performance as Jim Fuller cannot be faulted (he won an Oscar nomination for it, but lost to Maximilian Schell). Based on a novel by Charles Israel.

1961 127m/B GB Stuart Whitman, Maria Schell, Rod Steiger, Brenda de Banzie, Maurice Denham, Donald Wolfit, Paul Rogers, Donald Houston, Amanda Black, Russell Napier, Marie Devereux; D: Guy Green; W: Sidney Buchman, Raymond Stross; C: Dudley Lovell; M: Richard Rodney Bennett. Nominations: Academy Awards ‘61: Best Actor (Whitman). VHS

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