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Roy William Neill
Jack lives the high life and wants to make Marjorie his one and only. He then learns that his deceased father is alive but dying of lead poisoning. His father sent him away, twenty years before, to keep him out of the rackets. But now that he is dying, he wants to split the business between Giacomo (Jack) and Frank, his other son. The business includes running booze down from Canada. Written by
Tony Fontana <email@example.com>
A dying gangster reveals himself as the true father of a young society man, thus turning that GENTLEMAN'S FATE completely upside down...
According to cinematic legend, all the talkie MGM films starring John Gilbert were dreadful - the result of a bitter hatred between Gilbert (the highest paid star in Hollywood, with a $1.5 million contract) & studio boss Louis B. Mayer. A determination on Gilbert's part to fulfill the contract, and a campaign instituted by Mayer to destroy Gilbert's career - including spreading the rumor that Gilbert's voice was 'high & feminine', culminated in several unwatchable movies.
Not entirely true. The Studio had a huge financial investment in Jack Gilbert and was not going to completely cut its own throat by showcasing him in nothing but dreck. However, of the 8 MGM talkies in which he appeared as solo star (1929 - HIS GLORIOUS NIGHT; 1930 - REDEMPTION; WAY FOR A SAILOR; 1931 - GENTLEMAN'S FATE; THE PHANTOM OF Paris; WEST OF Broadway; 1932 - DOWNSTAIRS; 1933 - FAST WORKERS) most, including GENTLEMAN'S FATE, were rather ghastly.
Poor editing, a tawdry story line about unpleasant people, unattractive sets and a depressing climax all work together to sink the film. Poor Gilbert seems deflated, obviously embarrassed by appearing in such a poor film. His rather cold appearance & demeanor make it hard to sympathize with his character. What makes matters worse is that he is continually upstaged by Louis Wolheim, who actually gives a noteworthy performance as Gilbert's older, plug-ugly brother. (That these two could actually be siblings is one of the script's most unbelievable contrivances.)
Two lovely ladies, Leila Hyams & Anita Page, grace the film with their presence, but they are sadly wasted. Their romantic tribulations are meaningless to the audience because it is so difficult to warm up to Gilbert, the object of their affections. Paul Porcasi, Frank Reicher & John Miljan all strive to make their small roles meaningful, but they are largely defeated by the unforgiving script.
Marie Prevost has some good moments as a slatternly moll, but it is very sad to see her scenes with Gilbert. One is inevitably reminded that both their lives would be cut short by acute alcoholism, her final circumstances being especially atrocious.
Finally, about The Voice. There was nothing at all strange or unnaturally high about Gilbert's voice. As a matter of fact, it was of medium range & rather cultured & refined. That was the crux of the problem, of course. While it is possible that no voice could have ever matched the perfect one viewers heard in their minds while watching his strong, virile silent roles, the reality was very different from what they wanted to hear (imagine Robert Montgomery's voice coming out of Clark Gable's mouth.) Gilbert was doomed from his first scene in his debut talkie; his war with Mayer only intensified the agony. He would die in 1936, forgotten by most of his former fans, at the age of only 36.
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