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Old English (1930)

Passed | | Drama | 27 September 1930 (USA)
An old man unethically provides an income for his two grandchildren.



(by), (screen adaptation) | 1 more credit »


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Complete credited cast:
Doris Lloyd ...
Mrs. Rosamond Larne
Harrington Reynolds ...
Gilbert Farney
Reginald Sheffield ...
Bob Pillin
Phyllis Larne
Charles Ventnor
Joe Pillin (as Ivan Simpson)
Jock Larne
Joan McLain ...
Henry Morell ...


Although octogenarian Sylvanus Heythorp is still chairman of a shipping company, he is £14,000 in debt to creditors from a personal loan which he cannot repay. He is well-liked and affectionately called 'Old English' by the people of Liverpool, allowing him to settle a fixed amount to be paid from his salary, which all but one of the creditors, Charles Ventnor, begrudgingly accept. Ventnor asks Heythorp to settle his £300 debt to him in full, but Heythorp refuses. Mrs. Rosamund Larne, the widowed wife of Heythorpe's late illegitimate son, asks for an increase in his support money, among other changes she was forced to make she has eliminated dance and music lessons her daughter was receiving. His grandchildren, Phyllis and Jock love him dearly and call him by the nickname 'Gardy', but they do not know he is their grandfather. He hits upon an idea to provide them with an independent income for life, by buying four ships for his company from owner Joe Pillin for £60,000, and taking a 10... Written by Arthur Hausner <genart@volcano.net>

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Release Date:

27 September 1930 (USA)  »

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Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


The Broadway play of the same name upon which this film is based opened at the Ritz Theatre (renamed the Walter Kerr Theatre in 1990) at 219 W. 48th St. on December 23, 1924 and ran for 183 performances. George Arliss reprises his role for this film as do Henry Morrell, Ivan Simpson and Ethel Griffies. See more »

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User Reviews

A master class in an earlier generation's stage craft
16 December 2016 | by (Bolton, Ct./Jersey City, NJ; United States) – See all my reviews

OLD English and especially the tour de force performance of George Arliss in his final original role for the Broadway stage, is here meticulously preserved, if in slightly truncated form, for a grateful nation (the film was a major hit in its day, confirming a distinguished film career for the aging Arliss) by Warner Brothers' Vitaphone film department as the movies started to talk in earnest.

Of course Arliss' transition from stage to film can be accused by 21st Century "know-it-alls" as being too much a filmed stage play as Arliss, playing a shipping magnate nearing the end of his life cuts questionable deals to make sure the family of an illegitimate son from earlier in his life is left well provided for (and some folk claim this story is somehow "dated"?!?). That very faithfulness to the origins in Galsworthy's stage play was one of the film's major virtues when made, and whatever performance technique Arliss displays that children today may find "arch," in 1930 was a virtual masterclass in carefully crafted subtlety compared to the acting style which dominated the time on stage and screen - hence Arliss' major, well earned - and well remembered even today among the genuinely knowledgeable - film stardom from 1921 to 1937 when he deigned to commute in from his London home.

While Arliss' 25 films are today not particularly well distributed because of the changing tastes of the times, there are three PAGES of them listed on DVD on Amazon at this writing, every one of them worth considering! Galsworthy's "The Forsythe Saga" would be a massive hit twice for the BBC and PBS television many years later trading on the same cultural values - but it was free on TV and the remake was in color, yet it never achieved the classic status that OLD English on stage and film held for over a decade in the 20's and 30's.

This beautiful document in a must-see for any serious student of the modern stage and early film; while probably not for the pseudo-film fan or latter day dilettante who expects car chases, sex and explosions as their "entertainment," it is required viewing for those who thus far only know Mr. Arliss for his justly famous (and Oscar winning) interpretation of DISRAELI the year before, repeating one of his most famous stage roles for the SECOND time on screen!

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