The refined Lady Isabel Carlisle, after leaving her family and enduring nearly a decade of hardships, learns that her son has fallen ill. Despite being nearly blinded as the result of an explosion, she returns home to see her son again.


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Complete credited cast:
Robert Carlyle
Cecilia Loftus ...
Beryl Mercer ...
O.P. Heggie ...
Flora Sheffield ...
William as a Boy
Ronnie Cosby ...
William as a Child


The refined Lady Isabel Carlisle, after leaving her family and enduring nearly a decade of hardships, learns that her son has fallen ill. Despite being nearly blinded as the result of an explosion, she returns home to see her son again.

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Release Date:

1 March 1931 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Vidas truncadas  »

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1.20 : 1
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Preserved in 1979 by UCLA from the sole surviving nitrate print. See more »


Capt. William Levison: The most pathertic figure in life: the man who chooses a career over the woman he loves.
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Version of East Lynne (1902) See more »

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User Reviews

Unremarkable melodrama enriched by Ann Harding performance.
26 February 2003 | by (Putney, VT) – See all my reviews

After a forty year search I have finally seen EAST LYNNE. It is one of three elusive films nominated for Best Film Oscars. Never on tv and never on video. All existing materials (negatives, prints, sound discs, etc.) were donated to UCLA by Fox and reside there.

First let me say that I cannot fathom why the film earned a Best Film nomination - it is simply a melodrama, a "woman's picture" of the day - sentimental and unremarkable. There is nothing in the script or story line to make it stand out for honors. It DID deserve noms for Best Actress- Harding is stunning and wonderful - and Best Art Direction - elaborate, varied and tasteful - but did not receive these.

The script differs significantly from the book/play. There are about 25 scenes in all. It begins similarly. Social butterfuly, Isabel Vane, weds puritan parliamentarian, Robert Carlyle, who takes her to his estate, East Lynne (in the book the town was named East Lynne, not the estate). She meets his sister, who frowns on the marriage and runs the household with an iron hand. Three years later, Isabel is unhappy and bored by her husband and his stuffy Puritan friends. An old beau visits, Captain Levison, and takes Isabel to a ball when her husband is away. Levison makes advances but is rebuffed and leaves the next morning.

Here the script veers off from the book/play and is entirely different. In the book/play, Isabel is guilty of adultery and runs away to the continent with Levison, who soon tires of her and leaves her. She is facially disfigured in a train wreck, leaving all to think her dead. She becomes a governess and winds up back at East Lynne, teaching and caring for her son, unbeknownst to the household or her former husband due to her disfigurement. The son becomes ill and dies in her arms as she reveals her identity and, herself, dies.

In the film she is entirely innocent, but is not believed by her husband and his meddling sister. She is thrown out of the house, divorces and is scandalized by an unbelieving and unforgiving society. She flees to the continent and meets Levison there. She takes up with him in Vienna. He is a diplomat and loses his post due to political conniving. Enter the Franco-Prussian War and he and Isabel are living in poverty in Paris. He is dissolute and blames her for their lives. She nobly suffers. A bombardment by the Prussians results in his death and damage to her eyes - she is going blind. She manages to return to East Lynne and sneaks into the house (via a loyal and loving maid) to see her son for the last time before she loses her eyesight.

The direction by Frank Lloyd is not his best - many scenes run on boringly too long and his tempos are not good. Harding seems to be struggling in many scenes to keep them interesting - and she succeeds on talent alone. Both men who play her love interests - Conrad Nagel and Clive Brook - are such boring sticks as actors and such rotten cads as characters, we truly feel sorry for Isabel. She is the sole good person in the film, surrounded by evil.

This is worth seeking out for Ann Harding fans, definitely. Sadly, I must concur that it's unavailability to the public for viewing turns out to be no great loss.

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