According to the Citadel Film Series book The Films of Ronald Colman, the movie-going public did not take to Colman in Cynara playing an adulterous husband. His image as the ultimate civilized man of the English speaking world did not jibe with infidelity. Still Colman does give a decent performance in a rather dated melodrama.
Colman when we meet him is one happily married if somewhat bored man to Kay Francis. He's a successful barrister. But when Francis is on a girl's holiday, Colman rather casually drifts into an affair with young Phyllis Barry.
Of course it ends in tragedy as these things do, especially back in the day. It does resolve in the best tradition of stiff upper lip English dignity which I think today's audience will not understand. But that would also be in the Ronald Colman tradition as well.
King Vidor got good performances out of his cast. Kay Francis as the wronged wife has little to do here, but look martyred. A favorite character actor of mine Henry Stephenson lends his worldly wisdom to the proceedings. And there is a nice performance by Viva Tattersall as Barry's friend and Colman's accuser.
Cynara is a nice, but terribly dated film. Audiences back then were put off by this digression from the Colman image. Audiences today will be thrown by all those rather silly romantic notions and the idea that we must preserve appearances at all costs.
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