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If you are watching the great Lionel Barrymore, then it is not possible for you to be wasting your time. "Washington Masquerade" can be considered a showcase for Barrymore, and he delivers a wide ranging performance for our entertainment.
However, I think the most fascinating way to take in this film is to focus on Barrymore's famously arthritic hands. Like a tic that cannot be controlled, these hands never stop moving, restlessly in continuous motion throughout this film. I do not know if this was a conscious decision on the director's part, but those enormous hands, with their lengthy fingers, keep moving, moving, and moving; now sweeping his hair back, now smoothing out his clothes, now grabbing on to his lapels, now wiping or covering his face and brow, the hands are the true stars of this film.
Brother John Barrymore may have been known as The Profile, but Lionel should be known as The Voice, the distinctive pitch and tone Lionel's alone. The final scene, in which he delivers a scorching speech to a committee of Congressmen, may be hokey and dated, but it's still an electric performance by the great one.
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