S. N. Behrman
Random House, 1941
First edition in dust jacket
Inscribed by Behrman
(On front free endpaper)
For Edgar, / Friend in time of terror.
/ from / Sam. / Culver City / May 1941.
generation gap takes center stage in The Talley Method
. Originally entitled "The Mechanical Heart," this
serious comedy presents Dr. Talley, a surgeon of no mean
ability and gracious bedside manner who has otherwise failed
as a family man, suggesting perhaps fallibility of science.
The departed first Mrs. Talley is to be supplanted by a
second Mrs. Talley, Enid Fuller, a poetess and ex-patient.
With trepidation Enid approaches the Talley children and
eventually, by her display of tolerance and sensibility,
sharing their agonies as well as their joys, she succeeds
with them where their father has failed. However, his
indomitable inflexibility eventually convinces Enid that she
cannot marry him. She and the children depart, leaving Dr.
Talley sadder, possibly wiser, but probably unchanged.
Personality conflicts among production personnel, which
necessitated a change of directors and taking the show back
on the road after it had completed its initial tour and
returned to New York for its ostensible opening, probably
distracted Ina Claire from the competent assistance she
usually brought to a Behrman project. The death and
subsequent replacement of a leading man, some less than
favorable casting, and a quite unsympathetic leading
character all added up to an unhappy venture certain to
fail. Marginally better box office than Wine of Choice,
owing to Claire’s presence, The Talley Method ran for
fifty-six performances. The nation’s First Lady, Eleanor
Roosevelt, reporting in her syndicated column, "My Day,"
that she found the play "confusing" probably did not aid
matters any at the box office.