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According to RKO records, Billie Burke was paid $1,500 per week for a total of four weeks, while John Barrymore's contract guaranteed him $50,000 and 15% of the film's gross after the first $1,000,000 in profits. Katharine Hepburn was paid $1,500 per week for a total of $7,125. See more »
'Katharine Hepburn' is misspelled in the credits as 'Katherine Hepburn'. See more »
Though this is the second screen version of Clemence Dane's play A Bill of Divorcement, it's the version that we all remember because it is the film that gave us the director/actress combination of George Cukor and Katharine Hepburn who would then rack up nine more joint ventures in almost fifty years.
Sad to say the play is an old fashioned melodrama that dates pretty badly and it's not really good screen material with the nearly the whole short 70 minute film taking place on only one set. Neither Cukor or Hepburn have quite mastered the screen technique. But the talent and charm were there and it's no wonder Kate had the lengthy career she did.
Though he enters the film when it's nearly a third over, when John Barrymore comes in, he dominates the proceedings. He's a shell shocked World War I veteran returning home after years in an asylum. By that time his wife Billie Burke is in love with another man, Paul Cavanaugh, and is ready to serve Barrymore with divorce papers, hence the title.
Barrymore seems cured, but it doesn't take much to set his fragile psyche out of kilter. What are both Burke and Hepburn to do as it comes out that insanity is prevalent in Barrymore's family tree?
Though the story is very dated, the power of the performances will keep you interested. Quite a lot is packed into a classic film that has an unusually short running time.
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