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Wait ’Til the Sun Shines, Nellie

(1952 c 108')

En: 6 Ed: 6

Adapted from Ferdinand Reyher’s novel, a barber keeps his wife in a small town even though she wants to go to Chicago. Their son goes off on his own and is in World War I.

         Ben Halper (David Wayne) and Nellie Halper (Jean Peters) get off a train, and he shows her a new barbershop where they will live. They meet Ed Jordan (Hugh Marlowe), who asks for a shave. Ben says they were just married. Nellie wants to go to Chicago. In the morning a quartet sings to open the door.

         Ben provides a place to stay for Trooper (Bill Walker) who works for him. Ben gives Nellie a fur coat and takes her to their new home. She dances with Ed. Nellie has a baby boy. In 1898 men go to war. Ben objects to Nellie’s lip rouge. Ben bought property, but he does not want Nellie to know. Ed kisses Nellie, and his wife Bessie Jordan (Joyce Mackenzie) puts on lip rouge so that others will not know.

         Ben goes to war and cuts hair. Nellie has a baby girl. Ed asks Nellie to go to Chicago. Nellie gets angry when she learns that Ben owns the barbershop and the house. She takes a train to Chicago. Ben is told that Nellie was killed in Chicago, and he is discharged and goes home. Bessie blames Ben because Ed was killed too. Ben does not work and gets drunk. Trooper tells Ben that he did not take Nellie into his confidence.

         Ben looks for a wife, and his barbershop burns down. A bank loan helps Ben get a new barbershop. Benny Halper Jr. (Tommy Morton) tells his father Ben that he wants to go to Chicago to be in vaudeville, but Ben says he must go to college. Benny leaves.

         Ben sees Benny perform on stage in Chicago with Eadie Jordan (Helene Stanley), his wife. Benny goes to war, and Ben takes Eadie home. She says she is pregnant, and Ben lets her stay with him. They learn that Benny is missing. Ben’s daughter Adeline is going with Austin Burdge. Ben waits for a call and tells Eadie that Benny was wounded.

         Benny comes home and sees his daughter Nellie. He becomes a barber and Ben’s partner. Benny tells his father he is going to work with McCauley in an insurance business in Chicago. McCauley brings the gangster Mike Kava to Ben for a shave and says they sell protection. Ben objects to Benny’s racketeering job. Ben asks Mike to release Benny. Mike comes back for a shave and says that Benny wants to stay with him. Benny calls Ben and warns him that hoodlums are coming and to take Mike out the back. A car drives by, and machine guns kill Mike, Benny, and another gangster.

         Adeline has her wedding and leaves. Ben’s granddaughter Nellie has grown up, and they lead the parade in 1945.

         This nostalgic family chronicle portrays a barber who finds happiness in a small town despite various tragedies that include the violence that wounds and kills his son. The drama reflects how the American dream can also be a nightmare because of adultery, wars, and organized crime.

Copyright © 2012 by Sanderson Beck

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