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A cavalcade of English life from New Year's Eve 1899 until 1933 seen through the eyes of well-to-do Londoners Jane and Robert Marryot. Amongst events touching their family are the Boer War, the death of Queen Victoria, the sinking of the Titanic and the Great War. Written by
Jeremy Perkins <email@example.com>
I suppose you don't have to be an Anglophile to like Cavalcade, but it certainly helps.
The film it seems to be most like to me is Giant. Just as the Edna Ferber based film is some 25 years of the second quarter of the last century as seen through the eyes of the Texas Benedict family, Cavalcade is a British social history through the Marryots, Robert and Jane played by Clive Brook and Diana Wynyard. Though the Benedicts have their problems, they don't go through near the tragedies that the Marryots do.
Cavalcade was presented on the London stage a few years earlier and it never made it to Broadway unlike most of Noel Coward's works. It was an expensive production with revolving kaleidoscope like sets that probably made American producers on Broadway shy away from it.
A lot of standard English Music Hall numbers were used instead of Coward writing an original score. He did contribute one number however, 20th Century Blues which was a whole commentary unto itself of the roaring twenties.
Although at that point in time our history in the USA certainly does connect with the United Kingdom's during World War I for the most part Cavalcade deals strictly with British subject matter. I'm afraid unless one is a fan of Noel Coward or is familiar with 20th Century British history, it's hard for today's audience to appreciate Cavalcade.
Cavalcade however was the Best Picture of 1933 and Frank Lloyd won for Best Director. He'd win another Oscar for Best Director on another, but far different British subject in Mutiny on the Bounty. Diana Wynyard was nominated for Best Actress, but lost to Katherine Hepburn for Morning Glory.
Two other good performances are Una O'Connor and Herbert Mundin as Mrs. and Mr. Bridges. They are the downstairs in service couple to the upstairs Marryots. Both play far different parts than what we normally see of them. Most film fans remember Herbert Mundin as the meek mess man from Mutiny on the Bounty and Much the Miller from The Adventures of Robin Hood where he's paired with Una O'Connor. He's quite different here.
Cavalcade is good, but terribly dated. Still it should be seen and evaluated as a commentary of how the British saw themselves at the beginning of the Great Depression.
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