Young Harry is in love and wants to marry an actress, much to the displeasure of his family. Harry thinks that Bishop Armstrong knows nothing about love so Armstrong tells him the story of ... See full summary »
Lally is a rich girl whose father writes books and plays Polo. After 23 years of marriage, he decides to divorce his wife, and marry Mrs. Chevers. This sours Lally on all men, while on ... See full summary »
Young Raymond Floriot, following in his father Louis Floriot's professional footsteps, he now France's attorney general, has just passed the bar exam. Raymond's first case, appointed to him by the courts, is a murder case. His pitiful and poor Jane Doe client, who refers to herself only as Madame X, admits to killing the scoundrel of a man named Laroque, but won't disclose why or in turn defend herself in court. Raymond knows nothing of her past, which includes once being a woman of class, married to man of prestige. But that marriage ended because he treated her without love, which resulted in her leaving him for another man, who in turn passed away shortly thereafter. Her first marriage produced a son, who her husband refused to let her see. Her son never knew she was alive, he being told by his father that she died. The consequence of his action left Madame X on a downward path where she never found love. Now, in turn, she hopes her silence will protect the one that she really ... Written by
A relic of Victorian melodrama and a record of '20s stagecraft.
It's interesting that the rebellion against Victorian mores lasted until well into the 20th century. This story of the endurance of Mother Love and the cruel implacability of Victorian morality is much contrived ado about nothing.
Like too many early talkies it is extraordinarily dull: there is no background music, little cutting and the camera work is static. Self-indulgent, stagy scenes are allowed to run on for too long. The gloomy sets, dark painted flats such as one must have seen on the Victorian stage and as can be seen in early silent films, are only dimly illuminated. The gloss that MGM became known for is not in evidence here.
The only point of interest in this film is that it is a record of the talent and style of Ruth Chatterton, one of the foremost stage stars of the '20s, and a star of early talkie films. Unfortunately, though a definite professionalism and artistry are evident, they also expose her as a shallow and posturing actress. With her slack body, puffy face and large, bleary eyes, she exudes masochism and self-pity from her very first scene, and this sense of weary defeat is sounded again and again without variety. More of a problem is her voice: her plummy and very deliberate diction (perhaps a by-product of early sound recording) gives lie to what is supposed to be a display of deep feeling. Her performance is nothing but empty technique, all of which imitates and indicates intense feeling without actually showing any. Where is the energy and life of real emotion? It isn't here.
In fact, polished, lifeless performances like this suggest why Bette Davis's work in OF HUMAN BONDAGE was like a gust of cold, clear air in the movies: In that film, Davis is full of the grit, spite and energy of real life. When her Mildred gets angry, there is a real sense of danger and excitement in it, an almost out-of-control sexual edge. The tension, intensity and unexpectedness in Davis's best work is exactly what is lacking in Chatterton's playing at emotion. This film is strictly for students of early sound films, or devotees of outmoded styles in stage and screen acting.
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