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The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934)

Passed  |   |  Biography, Drama, Romance  |  21 September 1934 (USA)
7.1
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 1,003 users  
Reviews: 19 user | 8 critic

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

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(from the play by) (as Rudolf Besier) , (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 »
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Cast

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

In 1845 London, the Barrett family is ruled with an iron fist by its stern widowed patriarch, Edward Moulton-Barrett. His nine grown children are afraid of him more than they love him. One of his rules is that none of his children are allowed to marry, which does not sit well with youngest daughter Henrietta as she loves and wants to marry Captain Surtees Cook. Of the nine, the one exception is his daughter Elizabeth, who abides faithfully to her father's wishes. Elizabeth does not think too much about the non-marriage rule as she has an unknown chronic illness which has kept her bedridden. She feels her life will not be a long one. With her time, she writes poetry, which she shares by correspondence with another young poet, Robert Browning. Elizabeth's outlook on her life changes when she meets Mr. Browning for the first time, he who has fallen in love with her without even having met her. She, in return, falls in love with him after their meeting. With Mr. Browning's love and ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

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


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

21 September 1934 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Forbidden Alliance  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

(Turner library print)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

'Irving G. Thalberg' reportedly sought Katharine Cornell, who had starred in the 1931 original production at the Empire Theater in New York, as well as the 1935 and 1945 revivals, to star in the film adaptation. Due to her intense loyalty to the theater, Katharine Cornell had regularly turned down all offers from Hollywood movie producers. However, Thalberg argued that Cornell "owed it to posterity to make movies...so that future generations of audiences to enjoy and for future actors and actresses to study," according to Tad Mosel's Cornell biography, Leading Lady. Cornell was briefly persuaded by Thalberg's persistence, most notably by his offer to "destroy the finished film completely, burn it and send it up in smoke, if she wasn't completely satisfied." Cornell briefly agreed to Thalberg's terms in private, however was still reluctant to make the transition to film and backed out of the verbal commitment. The closest thing to Katharine Cornell's movie debut would be a brief cameo in Stage Door Canteen in 1945. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Elizabeth Barrett: Is that Mr. Browning over there?
Wilson: I shouldn't be at ALL surprised, Miss.
See more »

Connections

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

Soundtracks

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

 
much better than I anticipated
30 May 2006 | by (New York, NY) – See all my reviews

I thought this would be a talky bore with bland characters and unimaginative cinematic techniques, but I was delightfully surprised! It's very nicely photographed and lavishly mounted, with vivid characters, dramatic coloring and dollops of humor. And the script even takes time to discuss actual poetry. Two representative elements that leap out at you: the sensitive performance of Una O'Connor as Elizabeth Barrett's devoted maid who appears to float across a room in her full-length dress and totally avoids hamming it up as she did (to hilarious effect) in THE INVISIBLE MAN the previous year. And the second is a superbly trained dog who takes his own walks around the neighborhood and scratches at the door when he comes home, to be let in by the servants. On the downside, although the viewer is led to view Norma Shearer's character as a homely recluse who hasn't left her chamber for years and can barely walk, Norma looks from moment one as if she just emerged from the Metro beauty salon (which of course is the case!). You'd think they might have tried a bit to make her look the part, even if only lightening the lipstick a shade or two, or perhaps a touch of shadow under the cheekbones, but no - she is as radiant, glamorous and robust as she ever was in anything. But histrionically this is one of her best efforts. She manages to convey exhaustion and weakness, and only very occasionally lapses into her wheezing, semi-coherent upper register when emotionally overwrought. (Helen Hayes would have been ideal casting for this part.) Charles Laughton as the old grouch of a father is in real life about Shearer's age but his jowly countenance - with the help of a powdered wig and sideburns - help him to look older. He is always riveting, as other viewers have commented, but he (or the script?) fail to convincingly knit the two sides of his personality together. Fredric March as Robert Browning is adequate, not particularly poetic, but dashingly attractive. Interestingly, he resembles Shearer so strongly (especially in profile) that HE could have played her father if his hair had been powdered. And in real life he is two years older than Laughton! But why quibble - this is one of the more entertaining and literate of MGM's Depression-era extravaganzas. At the very least it's delicious eye candy.


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