The Keeper of the Bees (1935) Poster

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A very, very strange plot...but I liked it.
MartinHafer11 June 2011
Considering that this was from an ultra-low budget studio (Monogram), it's a surprisingly good film and I enjoyed it quite a bit. However, you should be aware that it has one of the strangest plots I've seen in a film from this era and time and again I was utterly surprised with the direction that the writer chose for the characters.

The film stars Neil Hamilton, a very famous actor of his day but a guy who is almost forgotten today except for those who might recognize him as Commissioner Gordon from the Batman TV show.By the mid-30s, his stock wasn't quite what it had been in the silent and early sound era--and this is probably why he's starring with Monogram. Still, it was a very good showcase for him as he's clearly the star and center of attention throughout the film.

I won't tell too much about the plot, as I want you to be surprised when you watch. However, I'll at least give you the setup. The film begins with Hamilton in a veterans' hospital where he's been for years recuperating from being gassed in WWI. However, he decides to leave and live it up--after all he thinks he only has a few months to live. However, while on his way to Chicago for a good time, he gets diverted to a small town--and his entire life is changed repeatedly. He's a very nice guy and just by doing a few nice things for others, he's rewarded in the most unpredictable of ways.

Other than the fact that some of the film is a bit hard to believe, there wasn't much I didn't like about the movie. Hamilton was great and the plot, though strange, worked well because you liked the characters. Well worth seeing and perhaps deserving to be noticed.
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The bees are more fascinating than the humans.
mark.waltz28 October 2014
Warning: Spoilers
With Monogram's successful version of "The Girl From the Limberlost", they went ahead and filmed another one of Gene Stratton-Porter's novels. While the film version is enjoyable and the story unique, it isn't nearly the classic of its predecessor. The one moment where it really comes to life is when a character by the name of Little Scout explains to the film's hero (Neil Hamilton) of how and why bees are friends of man and shouldn't be feared. Explanation as to what the queen, workers and drones do is fascinatingly presented, and there is a little twist concerning Scout that is nicely hidden as well.

Hamilton is a World War I veteran who believes he's dying and plans to have one last fling in Chicago before he goes. But on his way, he comes across a dying old man (Hobart Bosworth) who makes him agree to take care of the bees he looks after while he's in the hospital. Earlier, Hamilton had hitch-hiked a ride with the mysterious Betty Furness whom he later runs into crying on the beach and agrees to marry for reasons she keeps to herself. All she wants is that they go their separate ways after they tie the knot. Through Furness, a kindly next door neighbor (Emma Dunn) and the local children (among them Edith Fellowes), Hamilton learns a lesson about life and comes to the conclusion that his life may not be as nearly over as he thought.

While some of the plot twists are outlandish, the film still keeps your attention, and like most films about country folk, they really become endearing. Dunn has a great moment towards the end of the film where she realizes the truth about what's been going on, and Hamilton's love for these simple folk really does prove to be the best cure there can be. Bosworth makes the most of his few scenes as the dying bee keeper, and Fellowes steals every moment she is on screen. Furness is a true mystery, her emotional state rather confusing at first, and the explanation of her motives somewhat unbelievable. Still, with the plot twist concerning an illegitimate child and how life goes on regardless, the flaws in the plot line are easily forgivable.
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I Agree
Al Westerfield11 March 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Based on the sole review I watched the film on YouTube. I didn't know that this was the second of three filmings. I must say that the original premise - a man with 6 months to live - is handled with daring, originality, simplicity and warmth. Every twist is unexpected yet makes perfect sense by the end. I really cared about the characters and got tears in my eyes on several occasions. But it's not bathos. The situations, although strange, seem absolutely real. Neal Hamilton who so often seems an upper-crust twit, here shows genuine down-to-earth emotion. It may well be his finest role. And it may be Monogram's finest effort. Recommended.
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Caring and good food save a veteran
tabari20 June 2017
I was raised reading Gene Stratton Porter novels. The Keeper of the Bees was always one of my favorites. So when I was flipping through free movies at Amazon, I had to check this out. The book was written in the early 20s, so the veteran of WWI who thought he only had 6 months to live would have likely been a younger man. I was so young when I first read the book the that major plot twist rather went right over my head. What struck me and has stayed with me is the way a man who languished in a hospital began to thrive when he reached the home of the Beekeeper. The fresh ocean air, the fresh tomatoes and good fresh food and even the orange juice. It was eating clean before that name for healthy eating was coined. I like that this was included in the plotting of the movie. So many books turned into movies lose what I think of as the best parts! And Little Scout was played amazingly in this movie. All in all I was happy to see it. Now if I could just find her book "Freckles" filmed and treated as well!
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