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A Modern Hero (1934)

Unrated  |   |  Drama  |  21 April 1934 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.5/10 from 97 users  
Reviews: 3 user | 1 critic

Pierre is a young and handsome circus rider whose mother has long tolerated his amorous adventures but becomes genuinely concerned when he actually falls in love. She reveals to him that ... See full summary »


(as G.W. Pabst)


(novel), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Complete credited cast:
Jean Muir ...
Joanna Ryan Croy
Marjorie Rambeau ...
Mme. Azais
Verree Teasdale ...
Lady Claire Benston
Florence Eldridge ...
Leah Ernst
Dorothy Burgess ...
Hazel Flint Radier
Hobart Cavanaugh ...
Henry Mueller
William Janney ...
Young Pierre Croy
Arthur Hohl ...
Homer Flint
Theodore Newton ...
Elmer Croy
J.M. Kerrigan ...
Mr. Ryan
Maidel Turner ...
Aunt Clara Weingartner
Mickey Rentschler ...
Young Pierre as a Child
Richard Tucker ...
Mr. Eggelson
Judith Vosselli ...
Mrs. Eggelson


Pierre is a young and handsome circus rider whose mother has long tolerated his amorous adventures but becomes genuinely concerned when he actually falls in love. She reveals to him that he's the son of a wealthy man, whom she could not marry because of the circus life. But Pierre uses this knowledge as a springboard to wealth and fame himself, as an automobile maker in the early days of the industry, and as a munitions dealer when war breaks out. But his ambition seems to take its toll on all his relationships, and he seems unaware that he is over-reaching himself... Written by Gary Dickerson <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis








Release Date:

21 April 1934 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Herói Moderno  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


The Billboard
Music by John Klohr
Played when Pierre performs his equestrian act
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User Reviews

Life Is a Circus for Richard Barthelmess
12 February 2011 | by (Earth) – See all my reviews

Irresistible French circus boy Richard Barthelmess (as Pierre Radier) is a bareback rider in more ways than one, after impregnating pretty Jean Muir (as Joanna Ryan). Although Mr. Barthelmess is willing to marry Ms. Muir, she decides to wed a more financially stable suitor. Alcoholic mother Marjorie Rambeau (as "Madame Azais"), who lost her left arm to a favorite circus leopard, saw this coming; of dubious origin, Ms. Rambeau tells son Barthelmess he was the illegitimate son of a wealthy lover. Barthelmess wants to become wealthy, too...

Predicting, "Someday, I'm going to be rich," he leaves the circus and eventually becomes a millionaire businessman. As the decades pass, Barthelmess continues to have affairs with well-heeled blondes, like Florence Eldridge (as Leah Ernst) and Verree Teasdale (as Claire Benston). This causes brunette wife Dorothy Burgess (as Hazel Flint) much distress. Barthelmess also keeps contact with his son by Muir, and helps the boy grow from poor Mickey Rentschler into pampered William Janney (as Pierre Croy). All may be in store for tragedy…

Despite the presence of accomplished actor Barthelmess and acclaimed director G.W. Pabst, "A Modern Hero" is a muddled melodrama; the former is miscast, and the latter misguided. This was Barthelmess' penultimate Warner Bros. film; the studio let him go after this and the forthcoming "Midnight Alibi" (1934) failed to draw the crowds necessary to continue to employ the studio's high-paid star. "A Modern Hero" is also notable as Mr. Pabst's only Hollywood sound film. It has moments.

***** A Modern Hero (4/21/34) G.W. Pabst ~ Richard Barthelmess, Jean Muir, Marjorie Rambeau, William Janney

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