The Talley Method

S. N. Behrman
New York: 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.
The 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.

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