John has led a solitary life for thirty years since the death of Moonyeen Clare. But now Owens, a close friend, insists that he care for his niece, Kathleen, orphaned when her parents were ... See full summary »
Creaky Yet Strangely Haunting Version of a Theatrical Classic
BERKELEY SQUARE was a success d'estime of the late Twenties and early Thirties. Based on a short story - THE SENSE OF THE PAST - by Henry James, it tells the story of how Peter Standish (Leslie Howard) travels back in time from the contemporary world into the late eighteenth century, and discovers to his cost that life isn't quite as idyllic as the history books might suggest. John L. Balderston's script isn't without its sentimental moments, but generally takes a hard-nosed look at the ways in which individuals remain as self-centered in the past as they might have been over a century ago. Leslie Howard, who created the past of Standish on the Broadway stage, here recreates his part; he doesn't have to do much other than to look bewildered, which he achieves very competently. Valerie Taylor makes an ideal romantic interest. Director Frank Lloyd was one of Twentieth Century-Fox's most competent contract directors; his version of Noel Coward's CAVALCADE (1933), based on another theatrical hit, is particularly memorable. In BERKELEY SQUARE he creates a brisk narrative, containing a memorable series of transitions between past and present. Definitely worth a look if a copy of the film can be found.
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