Julie Cavendish comes from a family of great Broadway actors. Her mother Fanny staunchly continues acting. Her boisterous brother Tony is fleeing a breach of promise suit in Hollywood. Her ... See full summary »
Julie Cavendish comes from a family of great Broadway actors. Her mother Fanny staunchly continues acting. Her boisterous brother Tony is fleeing a breach of promise suit in Hollywood. Her daughter Gwen must decide between going on stage, or settling down in a conventional marriage. Julie is just thinking that it would be nice to retire and get married, when who should turn up but her old beau, Gilmore Marshal, the platinum magnate from South America. Written by
The American Theatrical Tradition Known As The Barrymores
The Royal Family Of Broadway whom everyone in America knew to take as the Barrymores was a successful play on Broadway written by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber of the Algonquin Round Table. It ran 345 performances in 1927-28 and was immediately snapped up by Paramount once it was decided sound was here to stay. The wit of Kaufman/Ferber just would not have cut it on the silent screen with cue cards.
The family currently consists of grand dame Henriette Crossman, daughter Ina Claire, son Fredric March and granddaughter Mary Brian. Crossman is the kind that will carry on the theatrical tradition of the Cavendishes come what may. The theater is a religious calling and she's instilled that in her offspring. Ina Claire whose resemblance to Ethel Barrymore was unmistakable carries on, but she's starting to yearn for a quieter existence and she might have it with millionaire platinum king Frank Conroy. Her daughter from a former marriage Mary Brian is an eager young hopeful who has young playboy and future Durango Kid Charles Starrett panting after her. In real life Ethel did marry into the Colt Arms Manufacturing company and her daughter did pursue a stage career as well.
But the part of Tony Cavendish whom everyone took as John Barrymore provides the real spark in this work. Fredric March got his first Oscar nomination for this wonderful satire on a most outrageous man in John Barrymore. Barrymore's dissipation came later on, the result of the high flying, high living that you March brag on here. The tabloids of the day were filled with the doings of the Barrymores/Cavendishes and John provided most of the copy.
There's no Lionel equivalent here. Not that Lionel wasn't colorful in his own right, but he managed to keep his vices out of the public eye.
Ethel who took her position as First Lady of the American Theater quite seriously considered a law suit against any and all who had something to do with the play and film. But John who saw Fredric March do a stage version in California as well thought the play outrageous and funny and he congratulated March on getting him down so well. I guess without a Barrymore united front, Ethel really couldn't consider a lawsuit.
I saw the film years ago and then just saw it and I remembered back then how March just dominates the film, it's that kind of part. You enjoy Tony Cavendish when he arrives and you just wait for him to come back.
Although the play's been revived a lot, I doubt will see a remake of this film. The hijinks of the Barrymore clan are really not known to today's movie-going public and a lot of the jokes will be dated except to people like me. Still seeing this sparkling comedy might make you want to find out about the American theatrical tradition known as the Barrymores.
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