A loving mother tells her son that he isn't hers so that the boy will be able to climb out of their poor surroundings. He goes on to become a playwright, and his mother sells her store to ...
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A loving mother tells her son that he isn't hers so that the boy will be able to climb out of their poor surroundings. He goes on to become a playwright, and his mother sells her store to produce his first play. At the end of the film, the mother reveals that she lied about her son's birthright.
After failing as a leading man in Hollywood when talkies came in, Basil Rathbone came back as a character actor five years later. He had a remarkable 1935: David Copperfield, Captain Blood, Anna Karenina, and The Last Days of Pompeii especially showcased his range as a "villain," from pious sadist to laughing cavalier to haughty aristocrat -- each time acting with a subtle twist that made his character the most interesting one in the film.
And this little movie, in which he's not a villain but a gentleman drunk who becomes a surrogate husband and father to a poor shopkeeper and her son. It's not great literature; in fact it's pretty disgustingly condescending to the "little people" and their plucky spirit. As a story, it's about as interesting as an old doily fished out of grandma's trunk. Because I love him, I'd like to say that Rathbone saves it with a remarkable performance, but he's too much of a live wire to play a mild, passive weakling, and he doesn't have much chemistry with Pauline Lord, who plays the sacrificing mother we're supposed to be interested in. It's a part better suited to Roland Young or Donald Crisp... or Nigel Bruce.
Still, as a Rathbone completist, I was happy to get a chance to see it, having first read about it in Michael Druxman's biography of Rathbone waaaaay back in 1974... the recent airing by TCM is the first showing I'm aware of since then. Now if I could only get my hands on "Loyalties."
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