A wealthy woman, trying to discourage a former boyfriend from pursuing her, hires a young songwriter who needs money to pay off his gambling debts to pretend to be her boyfriend. The ... See full summary »
Dowdy housewife Kitty dotes on her self-centered husband but divorces him when his mistress shows up at their home one day to break up their marriage. Bob had become bored with her ... See full summary »
Robert Z. Leonard
Rod La Rocque,
Mary Barrett is an aspiring Opera singer who is taken under the wings of a famous operatic maestro, Guilio Monterverdi. After spending endless working hours together and arguing, their ... See full summary »
Kitty Vane, Alan Trent, and Gerald Shannon have been inseparable friends since childhood. Kitty has always known she would marry one of them, but has waited until the beginning of World War... See full summary »
There is a big charity function at the house of Mrs. Cheyney and a lot of society is present. With her rich husband, deceased, rich old Lord Elton and playboy Lord Arthur Dilling are both ... See full summary »
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
When producer Irving Thalberg cast his wife, Norma Shearer, in the role of Elizabeth Barrett, William Randolph Hearst was enraged that his protégé, Marion Davies, was not given the role. So Hearst pulled Davies out of MGM and placed her with Warner Brothers for the remainder of her career, and for over a year the name "Norma Shearer" did not appear in any Hearst newspapers. 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 »
[about one of his poems]
When that passage was written, only God and Robert Browning understood it. Now, only God understands it!
See more »
The Barretts of Wimpole Street is one of the finest play-to-film adaptations of the 1930s. Although its script, photography, and direction are all first-rate, it is still the grand performances that make this film appealing even today. The above-the-title trio had all won Academy Awards in the two or three years prior, and demonstrate their supreme thespian abilities in their roles. Towering above all is Norma Shearer, as bedridden invalid Elizabeth "Ba" Barrett. Although she speaks the lines in that sophisticated voice of hers, the scenes that strike the viewer greatest are ironically those without dialog at all. Take for example the scene immediately following her first visit with Browning. After he leaves her bedroom, the invalid struggles to her feet, and in one take, tries with all her heart to get over to the window so she can see him once more, leaving. In another scene, set a few months later, she is informed that Mr. Browning has come to visit her. Again, overcoming her bedridden state, she not only gets up, but also decides to go to see him downstairs instead of having him come up. Her eyes and hands express so much, and as she descends (without much dialog), her whole self-sense seem to elevate. Only a short while later, however, her domineering father orders her back upstairs. He wishes to carry her, but she insists on walking. In a magnificent William Daniels close-up, the camera stays on her face as her father tells her off camera that she will not succeed. Shearer's genius here lies in the change of facial expressions, as her reactions to her father's criticisms finally take their toll and she collapses. Quite simply, its another of Norma Shearer's brilliant characterizations, and one of the most different roles the actress ever played. March, second-billed as Browning, is a little histrionic. He gave a better performance opposite Shearer in 1932's Smilin' Through, but his performance here does not detract from the film, and his forcefulness seems strangely potent at times. As the glowering father, Laughton is amazing. The infamous "gleam" in his eye is there in many scenes, and when he carries his daughter up the stairs, its almost perverted (albeit brilliant). Maureen O'Sullavan is phenomenal as Elizabeth's young-and-in-love, rebellious sister, and Una O'Connor is in great form as her graceful maid.
A feast for fine acting, The Barretts of Wimpole Street is one of the most appealing of all costume dramas of Hollywood's golden age. It still stands (as it shall for many years to come) as a lasting tribute to two larger-than-life literary icons.
****point of interest****in 1957, Barretts was admirably remade by the same director (Sidney Franklin) at M-G-M (as was this version). Although not nearly as good as the original, fine performances from Jennifer Jones (Elizabeth) and John Gielgud (Papa Barrett) again captured on film Rudolph Besier's classic roles.
24 of 28 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?