May 20, 2016

The Classic Movie Ice Cream Social: A Blogathon of Cheer - One Desire (1955)

Thanks to Fritzi of Movies Silently for hosting the blogathon. Who doesn't love classic movies with cheerful plots? Do you have a go-to vintage flick that has the power to cheer you up when you’re feeling down? That's what this gig is all about. Kindly visit Movies Silently via either link above. You'll be glad you did.

When I'm down in the dumps and need a pick-me-up, Rock Hudson is there for me. Three films of his act on me just like a tonic: Magnificent Obsession (1954), All That Heaven Allows (1955) and One Desire (1955). In this post, I'm going to focus on One Desire (1955). It stars Rockie Baby with Anne Baxter, Julie Adams, Carl Benton Reid, Natalie Wood, William Hopper, Betty Garde, Barry Curtis, and Adrienne Marden.

One Desire (1955) is one of the glamorous melodramas Ross Hunter produced at Universal-International. These movies were a big hit with audiences but dismissed by critics at the time as nothing but romantic tearjerkers. I love to wallow in every one of them.

A short list of Ross Hunter's glitzy schmaltz: Magnificent Obsession (1954), One Desire (1955), All That Heaven Allows (1955), The Spoilers (1955), There's Always Tomorrow (1956), Imitation of Life (1959), Back Street (1961), and Madame X (1966). Many of the films were directed by Douglas Sirk.

Two quotes from Ross Hunter about his films:

"The way life looks in my pictures is how I want life to be. I don't want to hold a mirror up to life as it is."

"I gave the public what they wanted: a chance to dream, to live vicariously, to see beautiful women, jewels, gorgeous clothes, melodrama."

Opening Credits of One Desire

Cast of One Desire

Anne Baxter as Tacey Cromwell
Rock Hudson as Clinton "Clint" Saunders
Julie Adams as the Maleficent One, Judith Watrous Saunders
Carl Benton Reid as Senator Kenneth A. Watrous, Natalie Wood as Seely Dowden
William Hopper as "Mac" MacBain, Betty Garde as Mrs. O'Dell
Barry Curtis as Nugget Saunders, Adrienne Marden as Marjorie Huggins

One Desire, in gorgeous Technicolor, was directed by Jerry Hopper. Hopper also directed Rock Hudson in 1956's Never Say Goodbye, a remake of 1945's This Love of Ours.

The movie features a screenplay adapted by Lawrence Roman and Robert Blees from Conrad Richter's best-selling 1942 novel Tacey Cromwell (definitely worth a read just for the simple fact that Rock Hudson's character in the book is named Gaye Oldaker). You can find inexpensive used copies of the novel at or

Conrad Richter was an American novelist whose lyrical work is concerned largely with life on the American frontier in various periods. His novel The Town (1950), the last story of his trilogy The Awakening Land about the early 19th-century Ohio Valley, won the 1951 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. The first two books of the The Awakening Land trilogy are The Trees (1940) and The Fields (1946). His novel The Waters of Kronos won the 1961 National Book Award for Fiction.

The film was photographed by Maury Gertsman. Interestingly, later in his career Gertsman was the cinematographer on The Lucy Show (1962-68) and Here's Lucy (1968-74).

Rundown on One Desire

In the early 1900s, young Nugget (Barry Curtis) searches the White Palace, a sporting house, for his croupier brother, Clint Saunders (Rock Hudson). When he peeks into the dance hall girls's dressing room, the girls are delighted to discover that he is related to Clint, until co-owner Tacey Cromwell (Anne Baxter) overhears and warns them to stay away from her boyfriend. Tacey takes Nugget to her luxurious quarters, where he immediately falls asleep on the chaise longue.

Top: Nugget checks out the White Palace and meets the dance hall girls.
Center: Anne Baxter as Tacey Cromwell.
Bottom: Tacey warns the chicks to stay away from her man. Nugget asleep.
Hours later, an arrogant Clint shows up late for work, and even though Tacey covers for him, co-owner "Mac" MacBain (Hedda's boy, William Hopper) declares it Clint's last mistake. Clint, however, is not upset to be fired because he plans to move to Randsberg, Colorado, to take advantage of the newly wealthy silver miners there.

Upon seeing Nugget, who explains that he ran away from a nasty uncle to escape constant beatings, Clint is thrilled but reluctant to take the boy along. Tacey, an orphan who has been forced to work as a dance hall girl since the age of sixteen, convinces Clint to take her and Nugget with him, even though she knows he does not want to make a commitment to her. Mac, in love with Tacey, pleads with her to stay, but she explains that she wants only to erase the past and become respectable, her "one desire."

The threesome reaches Randsberg, where Clint immediately charms beautiful Judith Watrous (the Maleficent One, played by Julie Adams) and her senator father (Carl Benton Reid), hoping to advance his career. Tacey is jealous but soon finds herself distracted by the tumbledown house she has rented for her and Nugget, and by her attempts to become domestic. To appear upright, Clint stays at a nearby hotel, and their life together proceeds smoothly. Mrs. O'Dell (Betty Garde), a kind neighbor, helps Tacey and becomes her best friend.

Top to Bottom: Tacey, Nugget, and Clint arrive in Randsberg.
Second image: Clint meets Judith, the Maleficent One.
Third image: Clint meets Senator Kenneth A. Watrous and his aide.
Bottom: It's ok for Clint to play around but not Tacey.
Top: Tacey and Clint share a kiss in the hotel.
Second image - L-R: Tacey's house, Mrs. O'Dell's house, Seely's house.
Third image: Clint teases Tacey about fixing up the house.
Bottom: Tacey tells Clint he has to live at the hotel. It's respectable.

One day, Nugget meets motherless tomboy Seely Dowden (Natalie Wood), and after the two fight, Tacey explains to Nugget that he has more advantages than Seely and thus must treat her nicely. Clint runs into Judith in the bank and quickly earns her respect, and a job, by demonstrating his skill with money.

Top L: Seely with uncombed hair and dirty, ragged clothes.
Top R: Nugget and Seely fight.
Center L: Tacey tell Nugget to be nice to Seely.
Center R: Laughing about Tacey's domestic skills.
Bottom L: Clint and the Maleficent One at the bank.
Bottom R: Clint handling money.

Soon after, Seely's father is killed in a mine accident, and only Tacey takes the time to find and comfort her. Within weeks, both Nugget and Seely consider Tacey their mother, and Tacey, suffused with happiness, reveals to Clint that she wants to be married. He replies that he loves her but is not ready yet, and the next day spends hours with Judith and Senator Watrous.

Top: Tacey comforts Nugget after Seely's father's death.
Second image: Tacey wants a commitment.
Third image: Tacey tells Clint not to wait too long then kisses him.
Bottom: Outside church - Seely, Tacey, Nugget, Judith, and Marjorie
Top: The Maleficent One and her Evil Assistant Marjorie
Second image: Nugget, Tacey, and Seely after church
Third image: Clint eats dinner at the Watrous House
instead of going on a picnic with Tacey and the kids.
Fourth image: All is forgiven.

Judith Reveals Her True Self

Afterward, Judith hires a private eye to investigate Tacey's past. Using her friend Marjorie Huggins (Adrienne Marden), Judith informs Judge Congin (Howard Wright) that Tacey is "not fit" to be a mother. Judith arranges a trip for Clint, and the moment he leaves, Tacey is put on trial where the judge names the children wards of the court. While Tacey weeps, Judith offers to take Nugget and Seely into her home.

Sure now that she will only hold Clint and the children back, Tacey leaves town in secret. Although Clint frantically searches for her upon his return, Mac lies that Tacey has not returned to the White Palace, and eventually Clint gives up.

Top L: Tacey says good-bye to the children as Judith watches.
Top R: Tacey says good-bye to Mrs. O'Dell.
Center L: Tacey leaves Randsberg in the pouring rain.
Center R: Mrs. O'Dell tells Clint that Tacey is gone
and the kids are at the Watrous House
Bottom L: Judith tells Clint that she hopes he finds Tacey. Not!
Bottom R: Mac tells Clint that Tacey isn't at the White Palace but she really is.
Six months later, the White Palace is booming under Tacey's care, but although she tries to forget Randsberg, a letter from Seely brings her to tears. (Seely sees a letter Tacey wrote to Mrs. O'Dell and takes Tacey's address from it.) Seely and Tacey begin a correspondence through which Tacey learns that, although the kids despise Judith and Clint does not love her, Clint finally marries Judith.

Top: Tacey says to Mac, "Randsberg? Never heard of it."
Second image: A letter arrives from Seely.
Third image: Tacey is tearful because Seely closed her letter with
"Your daughter, Seely."
Fourth image: Seely warns Tacey that Judith has hooked Clint.
Bottom: Clint has married the Maleficent One.
Two years later, Judith's constant nagging causes the now-grown Seely to run away to Tacey. At the White Palace, Tacey hears Seely's plan to run off with a married man, and bitterly explains that she once made the same mistake and her life has been ruined by it. Later, she takes Seely back to Randsberg, where Marjorie spots Tacey and tells Judith.

Top: Seely runs away to Tacey and tells of her love for a married man.
Bottom L: Tacey sets Seely straight.
Bottom R: Marjorie and friend see Tacey bring Seely back to Randsberg.

Judith visits Tacey at Mrs. O'Dell's and reveals that she tipped off the judge years earlier. Suddenly aware that Judith has more to be ashamed of than she does, Tacey decides to stay in town and wreak revenge by opening a huge, showy sporting house called the Pink Palace across the street from Clint's house. A delighted Clint visits but, sensing Tacey's spite, grows confused.

On New Year's Eve, Judith is furious about the Pink Palace and fights with Clint. During their society party, Clint sneaks out to share a glass of champagne with Tacey at the Pink Palace. They quickly dissolve into a passionate kiss, but when Judith sends for Clint, Tacey runs upstairs.

Top L: Judith fights with Clint.
Top R: Tacey and Mrs. O'Dell drink a toast on New Year's Eve.
Bottom L: Mrs. O'Dell warns Tacey about "spite-work."
Bottom R: Tacey and Clint share a passionate kiss.

Wise Mrs. O'Dell on spite-work

At his house, Clint finds Judith drunk, and she vows she will never grant him a divorce. As he leaves the house, she pitches a hissy fit. She throws an an oil lamp that causes a fire, and although Clint notices the flames and rushes back, he is too late to save his wife. A crowd gathers in the street, where Tacey and Mrs. O'Dell find Nugget and Seely but is saddened to hear of Judith's death. Suddenly, the Pink Palace also bursts into flames, and is quickly engulfed. By morning, Clint finds Tacey, Nugget and Seely at Mrs. O'Dell's house, and joins his family inside.

Top L: Judith fights with Clint and he leaves the house for the club.
Top R: Judith throws a fit, hits the lamp with a candlestick, and starts a fire.
Bottom: The Maleficent One burns. Clint tries to save her but is unable.

Top L: Tacey, Nugget, Mrs. O'Dell, and Seely are safe.
Top R: Clint realizes Judith is gone.
Bottom L: The Pink Palace goes up in flames.
Bottom R: Tacey, Clint, Nugget, and Seely are reunited at Mrs. O'Dell's house.
End Credits

Watch My Video of One Desire Posters and Stills

Watch One Desire (1955)

The name of the recipe is inspired by Tacey's sporting house.

The Pink Palace (Frozen Strawberry Dessert)

1 (11 oz.) pkg. Jell-O no-bake cheesecake mix (without topping)
5-6 T. butter, melted
1 qt. strawberry ice cream, softened
3/4 c. milk
10 oz. jar of Polaner Strawberry All Fruit (with seeds or seedless)
2 cups strawberries, washed, hulled, and sliced

Combine graham cracker crumbs from cheesecake mix with melted butter. Press into bottom of 9" x 13" pan. Spread softened ice cream over crust. Put in freezer. Combine cheesecake filling mix and milk. Beat until blended. Add jar of Polaner Strawberry All Fruit and beat 3 minutes. Spread over ice cream. Freeze 3 to 4 hours. Serve topped with fresh sliced strawberries.

I've also made this with raspberry ice cream/Polaner Seedless Red Raspberry All Fruit, blackberry ice cream/Polaner Seedless Blackberry All Fruit, and chocolate ice cream/Polaner Cherry All Fruit. Yum!

1 comment:

Joe Thompson said...

Hi Meredy. I have never seen this one. What a great cast. I like the way you call Julie Adams' character "The Maleficent One."