Format: Turner Classic Movies on big ol’ television.
Once again, I’m presented with a movie that I completely didn’t expect. Cinderella Liberty has the sound of a happy movie about a breezy romance. It’s anything but. This is a movie that goes to some horribly dark places and sits there and never lets up. That it ends with a slight uplift is forgivable here—this is a film that needs it. I’m not entirely sure of my final take on it, but that’s par for the course for a film that digs deeply into the sort of petty, selfish wickedness of people.
John Baggs Jr. (James Caan) is a sailor during peacetime who checks himself into the medical facility at the Seattle Naval base. He has a minor medical complaint, but it turns out he needs some tests, and the tests won’t be complete before his ship sails again. This means that, like it or not, he’s on shore until he can be placed on another ship. He’s given what is called a “Cinderella liberty,” which means he is free to leave the base, but the liberty ends at midnight, much like Cinderella’s magic. On the leave, he wanders into a bar and encounters Maggie Paul (Marsha Mason), who is a prostitute and pool hustler. John loses a couple of games to her, then ups the bet to more money than she has. The bet then becomes, more or less, for her services, and he wins handily.