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E. Mason Hopper
John owns the largest chain of five and ten cent stores in the country. He moves his family to New York from Kansas City and their life, though grand, is falling apart due to his constant working. Wife and mother Jenny is lonely. Son Avery hates his job. Daughter Jennifer is snubbed by classmate Muriel and her friends. At a charity bazaar, Jennifer meets Berry and sparks are evident. However, he is engaged to Muriel and Muriel will make sure that she, and only she, marries Berry. After the marriage, Berry still thinks of Jennifer as Jennifer thinks of Berry. Avery laments about the state of his family since they were happy in Kansas City. Written by
Tony Fontana <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Leaden romance overwhelms serious tale of obsession.
I have not read Fannie Hurst's original novel, but there is much good meat here for a serious drama about family life and the world of the nouveau riche. Unfortunately, most of the screen time is spent on a very dull romance between social climber, Jennifer Rarick (Marion Davies), and upper crust architect, Berry Rhodes (Leslie Howard).
The wealthy five and ten cent store magnate John Rarick (Richard Bennett) moves his family to New York City from Kansas City and first all seems well. However, the changes wrought from the stress of their new world slowly tear the family apart. Mom (Irene Rich) is lonely, neglected by her workaholic husband, and has an affair. Son Avery (Douglass Montgomery, here billed as Kent Douglass) is unhappy at work and is slowly being torn apart by watching his family disintegrate. Jennifer longs to be accepted by the society women who snub her as a gate crasher. Her romance with Berry is ended when she is accused of "buying" him with her money.
The tragedy that pulls all this together is Avery's suicide - using a stupid insert of his crashing a plane when there is no mention of his love of flying and when it would be more believable if he just induced an automobile accident.
The film doesn't work, despite Marion Davies' charm. The best performance in it is that of Douglass Montgomery, who in only eight scenes runs the gamut from boyish excitement to depression and madness. His two lengthy drinking scenes are very well done indeed.
This is one that only fans of its stars should really seek out. It's one of Montgomery's best roles though and should primarily be seen for him.
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