Stilted drama: for fans of Madeleine Carroll only.
Starting in the Civil War South like an across-the-generations romance in the manner of SMILIN' THROUGH, this stilted drama then slogs through World War I and the Great Depression like an American CAVALCADE. John Ford effectively showcases the luminous Madeleine Carroll [including a QUEEN CHRISTINA-like moment of gazing out to sea], but otherwise directs with little commitment to the material. Franchot Tone conveys zero chemistry with his leading lady, so he just goes through the motions, while Ford favorite Stepin Fetchit works his offensive "shuffling darkie" routine, but in Paris. The screenplay seems especially turgid since the situations are arbitrary and reveal little about the characters. Despite an occasional imaginative touch, this all makes for a long 107 minutes.
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