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This is one of Whale's favorites among his own works (the director even gave himself an uncredited bit!) but which he only got Universal to bankroll by accepting to helm another fantasy project for them, the subsequently aborted "A Trip To Mars". Anyway, this obscurely-titled melodrama is based on John Galsworthy (best-known for "The Forsythe Saga")'s last novel adapted by the equally distinguished R.C. Sheriff. It tells of the vicissitudes of a young wife (Diana Wynyard, fresh from an Oscar nomination for the previous year's Best Picture winner CAVALCADE), about to be divorced from her brutish husband (a brief but typically impressive turn from Whale regular Colin Clive), who unwittingly adds coal to the fire via her initially platonic relationship with a young man (Frank Lawton, soon to play his most notable role as the grown-up David COPPERFIELD ). The narrative also has a strong political element to it, not just in view of the subplot involving the electoral climate (personified by Reginald Denny's newly-appointed MP), but in the heroine's emancipation from the rigid status quo pertaining to woman's role in society.
While undeniably dated, the film boasts splendid cinematography and sets (by BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN's John J. Mescall and Charles D. Hall respectively) the latter would be memorably refurbished and re-used for the Mary Shelley prologue and the Baron's own abode in that very film which rather suggests that the art director/set decorator's craft is not nearly appreciated enough! Apart from this, we get a truly remarkable supporting cast: lovely Jane Wyatt (as Wynyard's kid sister), C. Aubrey Smith (their father), Henry Stephenson (an uncle), the oddly-named Mrs. Patrick Campbell (hamming it up as his outspoken wife apparently, she was like that in real-life too!), Lionel Atwill (the wily but pompous Prosecutor), Alan Mowbray (the defense counsel), Gilbert Emery (the genial Judge) and E.E. Clive (the other Clive's resourceful private detective).
Finally, the copy I acquired was sourced from an old TV broadcast off the U.K.'s Channel 4: despite a couple of intermissions for publicity spots(!), the quality is surprisingly adequate much better, in fact, than that for most of the other Whales I have been watching lately.
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