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Robert Z. Leonard
The thoughts that people think are never the same as the words they speak - and in this movie, we can hear the thoughts. Gordon Shaw was a flyer who was shot down and killed during WWI. Nina would have married him before he left, but her father forbade the marriage. Charlie is a friend, but Nina does not love him and he is too timid- too shy - to tell her the way that he feels about her. Sam is her husband and her love disappears after the ceremony when she finds out that there is mental illness in his family and that there can be no children. To have the child she wants, but cannot have with Sam, she has a secret affair with Ned, who wants her to leave Sam. Gordon is the result of the affair, but he does not know Ned is his real father. Nina continues to play with the emotions of all three men and devote herself only to Gordon. Written by
Tony Fontana <email@example.com>
Eugene O'Neill's 4 and a half hour 1927 play brought to the screen in less than two hours. The play's combination of symbolic dialogue and gothic melodrama hasn't aged very well and the cast has some difficulty with it, especially Norma Shearer's Nina and Ralph Morgan's Marsden. Clark Gable as Ned Darrell comes off better but mostly because his is a gruff character not given to the philosophical musings of the others which better fits Gable's range. Once the plot settles down to the love quadrangle and the audience adjusts to the voiceover asides the film does become more enjoyable. The technique used here for the asides is another problem. On stage the action froze while the actors spoke their thoughts to the audience. Here they're done as voiceovers. You'd think that would work better but since the action no longer freezes the actors are forced to pause speaking and grimace at the camera to match the emotions in their thoughts. Plus it's difficult for any movie buff to watch this film and not think of Groucho Marx's hilarious parody version in "Animal Crackers." Added to these drawbacks are some cuts made for censorship reasons (Nina's promiscuity is soft-peddled and there is no mention of her getting the abortion that is more central in the play) and a wretched score (uncredited) that sounds like background music to a turn-of-the-century weepie. O'Neill called this film "a dreadful hash of attempted condensation and idiotic censorship," and although "Strange Interlude" is nowhere near as great as his later "The Iceman Cometh" and "Long Day's Journey Into Night," it certainly deserved better than this.
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