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Depression Era story set in London has department store owner (Lewis Stone) facing bankruptcy while his family fritters away money. A long-standing employee (Lionel Barrymore) gets fired but finds new life in a home-based bakery. The owner's wife (Benita Hume) can't face life without money, so she runs off with another man. The tables turn, however, when a last-minute reprieve saves the store and a new relationship is forged between the men. Written by
Extremely well-acted drama from MGM is a rather depressing tale during its first half only to pour too much sugar during the second part. The film takes place during the Depression as Lewis Stone is forced with the fact that his department store is losing too much money and he is forced to lay off several people including one (Lionel Barrymore) who has been with the company for over forty-years. Soon things are getting even worse and Lewis finds himself nearly broke when someone makes an offer for his store. Barrymore gets top-billing and his name over the title but he's got a rather small role and only appears at the start and end of the film. The movie clearly belongs to Stone who turns in a marvelous performance and really makes this film worth seeking. The Depression-era tone of the film certainly fits in well today and one can't help but feel a lot of the messages being said in this movie could be said today. There are some truly depressing moments in this film including the start where Lewis has to lay off Barrymore. The acting these two give during this sequence is certainly spell bounding as they both perfectly nail the situation and really make you feel everything their characters are saying. Barrymore perfectly captures the depression of his character early on and then matches the happiness that would later follow. Colin Clive of FRANKENSTEIN fame has a small role here that doesn't give him too much to do but fans of the horror genre will still enjoy seeing him. The films title was taken from a speech given by F.D.R. and there's no question that the heart was in the right place even though the final third has way too much sugar than what was really needed. Considering a real Depression was going on, it's understandable that the studio wanted to say something with this film so I'm sure it worked better back when it was released. Fans of the two actors will certainly want to check this one out as both men give wonderful performances.
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