I’m sorry, but I cannot stand Margaret O’Brien’s crying schtick. It’s not five minutes into this flick, and she’s crying over a dead squirrel. Hell, she killed the thing. Chucked a rock at it. Now she’s pawing at a stuffed facsimile, crying and bemoaning her own evil self. Unfortunately, the psychotic killer potential in the story line is not followed up, and now she is hopelessly wholesome again. There was a glimmer though. She’s talking to pop Edward G Robinson (about as far from little Rico as you can be) and fesses up about the dead squirrel. Well you didn’t mean to kill it, he says. It’s not what you mean to do, she says, it’s what you do. Groovy, I thought, evil. But no, in the next scene it’s a big wholesome breakfast and mother Agnes Moorehead (about as far from the Magnificent Ambersons as you can be, or even the Twilight Zone, though she was sweeping) pours little squirrelcidal Margaret a glass of fresh milk. Minutes later there are beautiful farmer’s daughters everywhere, but no hay to roll in, just marzipan. Any minute now Margaret O’Brien will start crying again.
There’s an old Jack Benny radio show from the 1940’s where Jack owns up to sticking Margaret O’Brien with the check at the Brown Derby. The audience laughed and laughed and laughed.
Oh god, there she goes again, sniffling and crying.