Lionel Barrymore often drives me nuts--the same gestures and vocal inflections, playing so many similar roles so similarly. But in this little MGM soap opera, playing a good family man caught up in a potentially devastating financial crisis at work (it's almost like a warmup for "It's a Wonderful Life," with him as George instead of Potter), he's quiet and unhammy and very moving. He's well supported by a similarly restrained Fay Bainter as his wife, and the whole family is convincing--Mae Clarke as the sensible daughter, Tom Powers as the status-conscious son, Una Merkel as the gossipy maid. No surprises, and the plot is resolved by a deus ex machina one doesn't believe for a minute, but it's a simple story well told. And it shows how good Lionel could be when he held back; he's just as good the following year in "Ah, Wilderness!", in a not-that-different part.
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