That Brennan Girl

1972. THAT BRENNAN GIRL (1946-usa). WITH james dunn, mona freeman, William MARSHALL, JUNE DUPREZ, FRANK JENKS. Musical score by George Antheil. This deeply involving psychological drama is, in essence, a movie about motherhood: what it means to birth a child; how a parent relates to its offspring; and most meaningfully, how a mother can impact upon a youngster. Its scenario may be set during the World War II era, but the basic issues it examines are relevant to any age. It is the saga of Ziggy Brennan, a pretty teen-ager whose own mother, Natalie, is anything but a role model. Natalie is a hardened, materialistic dame who is expert at manipulating men, and then tossing them aside like yesterday’s newspaper. “With your looks, baby, you’ll never have to work for a living,” Natalie tells Ziggy, while instructing her on the proper application of lipstick and grooming her for a career as a tease. Two other, pivotal characters who pass through Ziggy’s life also have sigÂnificant ties to their moms. First is Denny Reagan, a slick-talking conman who recruits Ziggy into his racket, but who has a soft spot for his buxom, kind-hearted Irish mother. Mrs. Reagan constantly prays for her son, offering the dirty money he hands over to charity; despite Denny’s chosen profesÂsion, he basically is a decent sort, due in no small part to the influence of his mother. Then there is Mart Neilson, a navy man with a chest-full of ribbons, whom Ziggy meets just as he is set to be shipped off to the South Pacific. Mart recognizes the potential for good in Ziggy; he tells her of his beloved mother, a Minnesota farm woman who “knew what was right, and knew what was wrong.” The scenario is crammed with revelations: to expose anything else about these characters, and how they impact on each other’s lives, would take away from the overall effect of this complex, thoughtful film. 95 minutes. Drama