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The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934)

Passed  -  Biography | Drama | Romance  -  21 September 1934 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 869 users  
Reviews: 18 user | 6 critic

Elizabeth Barrett's tyrannical father has forbidden any of his family to marry. Nevertheless, Elizabeth falls in love with the poet Robert Browning.



(from the play by), (screen play), 2 more credits »
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Title: The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934)

The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934) on IMDb 7.1/10

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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 1 win. See more awards »


Cast overview, first billed only:
Katharine Alexander ...
Ralph Forbes ...
Marion Clayton Anderson ...
Bella Hedley (as Marion Clayton)
Ferdinand Munier ...
Dr. Ford-Waterlow (as Leo Carroll)
Vernon Downing ...
Neville Clark ...
Matthew Smith ...
Robert Carleton ...


Elizabeth Barrett's tyrannical father has forbidden any of his family to marry. Nevertheless, Elizabeth falls in love with the poet Robert Browning. Written by Diana Hamilton <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


When poets love, Heaven and Earth fall back to watch!


Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

21 September 1934 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Forbidden Alliance  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


(Turner library print)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The Barretts of Wimpole Street opened at the Empire Theater (New York) on February 9, 1931 and ran for 370 performances. The opening night cast included Katharine Cornell as Elizabeth Barrett, Brian Aherne as Robert Browning and Charles Waldron as Edward Moulton-Barrett. There were 2 Broadway revivals, in 1935 and 1945, also starring Cornell and Aherne in both. Flush, a Dog, was in all 3 productions, as well as in this movie and the 1957 remake, but they were probably at least two different dogs. See more »


When the Barrett children are gathered around the piano listening to Elizabeth sing, one of the sons can be caught looking directly into the camera lens, and then trying to divert his look. See more »


Robert Browning: [about one of his poems] When that passage was written, only God and Robert Browning understood it. Now, only God understands it!
See more »


Remade as The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1957) See more »


Wilt Thou Have My Hand
(1934) (uncredited)
Music by Herbert Stothart
Words by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Performed by Norma Shearer (piano and vocal)
Reprised by her, Maureen O'Sullivan, Katharine Alexander, Vernon Downing,
Neville Clark, Matthew Smith, Robert Carleton, Allan Conrad and Peter Hobbes
See more »

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User Reviews

The image of an abusive Dad.
28 August 2008 | by (gateshead,tyne and wear, england, uk) – See all my reviews

The Barrets Of Wimpole Street is a film based on rumours of poet Elizabeth Barrett's relationship with her father who allegedly abused her. As such the film makes for an interesting 'gossip column' type of story found in celebrity magazines. This of course does not trivialise the serious nature of abuse.

What is most interesting in The Barretts Of Wimpole Street is that the nature of abuse -which takes on an incestuous form, - and the fact that it is conveyed through the image of the great Charles Laughton who is far from abundant in classic film star good looks. Therefore, in this instance abusive parents are depicted with a certain image which lacks favourable features. If a more glamorous cinema idol had played the part of Edward Moulton-Browing, perceptions of abuse could become distorted even though looks are irrelevant to abusive behaviour.

It is also ironic that the abused Elizabeth Barrett's only opportunity to escape (at least it would appear that way) is via another controlling man. The difference is that Robert Browning wants (not totally motivated by altruistic reasons because he needs to fulfil his own emotional needs) the best for Elizabeth, whereas her completely selfish father only wants what's best for himself.

The acting in this version of the Barretts Of Wimpole Street is of the highest calibre. This is especially for the three leads. While Laughton conveys his character Edward Moulton-Barret's abuse with a malicious menace that is extremely frightening, Norma Sheara is amazing as the abused Elizabeth Barret. Her face conveys such helplessness of a woman trapped, not only by her physical condition and environment, but by the psychological anguish of a woman torn between her abusive father and the importance of her own well being. Indeed Edward Moulton-Barrett's children have learnt to receive their Father's approval via abuse.

In addition to conveying her anguish, Shearer illustrates that she is adept at illustrating the poetic Elizabeth when she interacts with Fredric March through her delivery of lines. This is reciprocated by March's efforts who is equally poetic in his highly animated delivery of lines.

The supporting cast all give tremendous performances, especially that of Maureen O'Sullivan. She plays the naive, younger sister Henrietta to her stolid older sibling Elizabeth. Comic relief comes from Una O'Conner as Elizabeth's loyal maid Wilson, and Marion Clayton Anderson as the scatty cousin Bella. Also good is canine acting from Flush the dog, who slinks into his basket right on cue at the mere sight of Charles Laughton's character Edward Moulton-Barrett.

This film adaptation of The Barrets Of Wimpole Street is cleverly adapted from the stage, and is one of the best of its era.

12 of 14 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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