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Olivia de Havilland,
Edward Everett Horton
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When a lawyer defending his best friend for murdering his unfaithful wife discovers how the accused discovered his wife was in love with another man, the lawyer begins to see the same patterns in his own wife's behavior, and suspects she too is being unfaithful. Promising his friend that a defense of momentary insanity will acquit him, he also promises to kill his own wife if the defense actually works. Written by
Ron Kerrigan <email@example.com>
Lawyer Frank Morgan follows in the footsteps of his murderer-client, Paul Lukas
Wealthy Gloria Stuart, the wife of Paul Lukas, is having a love affair with Walter Pidgeon. The movie opens with a tryst between them in his gorgeous art deco mansion. It's worth seeing this movie if only to see the beauty of the rich interior sets. Flowers abound. But she has given herself away by her reaction to Lukas as she prettied herself up before her mirror. He has followed her. He is coming through an exterior landscape borrowed from "Frankenstein". He shoots her three times through a garden window, and then calls the police to report his crime. He is a broken man. The story is not a mystery. It is a crime melodrama.
Lukas's friend, Frank Morgan, becomes his lawyer. He extracts from Lukas the story of the mirror incident. This is crucial because Morgan experiences a similar occurrence when his wife, Nancy Carroll, reacts angrily to his advances as she prepares to meet her lover, Donald Cook.
The cast is strong in this unusual story, the acting being in the style of that time, which for the most part does not hinder our enjoyment today. Will we be able to say the same of today's styles 80 years from now? Good support from Charles Grapewin and Jean Dixon as assistants to Morgan. The direction and photography produce quite a high degree of intensity, suspense and moodiness. Morgan drives the story forward as he questions Lukas intently and then suspects his own wife. His defense summary to the jury carries a heavily ironic edge, being almost as much for his own contemplated actions as those of Lukas. Lukas is a highly emotional and torn man, but not without the capacity to see where Morgan might be headed. Carroll is very nervous to think that Morgan knows and may turn violent.
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