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C. Aubrey Smith
Lonely in his English country estate, Sir Basil decides to gather his grown (albeit illegitimate) children around him in his declining years. He uses a ledger which keeps track of the payments he has been making to ex-lovers to locate 2 of them, and a third is found by a lawyer in New York, her mother was too proud to accept any money. Sir Basil is a curmudgeon, and his three adult children have a hard time with him at first. Toni, the American, is a free spirit who had a budding career in show business. Jeffery is English and a semi-gentleman, and Maria is Italian, with a Latin temperament. They begin to bond, especially Sir Basil and Toni, whose outgoing personality finally wins over the old man. But past lives begin to creep back into the picture and threaten the old man's plans for a life filled with his children. Written by
A mix of drama and comedy in this pre-code from MGM. An aging man, Sir Basil (C. Aubrey Smith) has been a bachelor from day one. Throughout his rich life he traveled the world and ended up having three kids by three different women. He hadn't had any contact with them but now he wants all three to come live with him with one (Marion Davies) who might not be who she thinks she is. It's really amazing to see some early talkies that sound extremely bad and this here is one such example. I'm really not sure what was going on in 1931 but we have a wide range of sound quality in various films but what's here is perhaps the worst I've heard. There isn't much hiss in the soundtrack but at times it appears the dialogue and sound completely drop off. Just take a look at an early scene where the three kids and their father are getting to know one another. As one character moves away, while talking, the dialogue gets lower and lower until you can't hear what's being said. I'm not sure if this was because of her walking away from the mic or what but it's very distracting. Like many early talkies, this one here is based on a famous play and the film just contains way too much talk. The pre-code nature of a man having kids all over the world is something mildly amusing and we get a couple naughty jokes out of it. The drama in the "twist" isn't really anything special and adds very little to the film. Davies turns in a pretty good performance even though the screenplay really doesn't give her too much to work with. We have Ray Milland in a minor role as well as Ralph Forbes. The main reason to watch this film is the performance by C. Aubrey Smith who really seems to be having a good time in the role. He manages to be quite touching and funny. In the end however, there's just not enough here to make the film work as well as it could have. Fans of the actors are the only ones who will want to check this one out.
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