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I found this film worthwhile although the plot had predictable moments. Mills of the Gods is still unconventional because of the substance of a few scenes and the plot twists instigated by the characters' choices. I was able to see this film through a showing by UCLA's Film and Television Archive. The description from the Archive describes the actors in this film playing against type. I do not know enough of Fay Wray's repertoire to comment on that assessment of her role. But it leads me to one reason to recommend seeing the film: the unusual sequence in the middle of the film in which Fay Wray and labor leader, Victor Jory (whom I can see as being cast against his usual role of the bad guy) spend a night in hiding so that he will not fall into the trap of causing trouble and then being arrested at her wealthy family's estate after being summoned there for supposedly legitimate reasons. Wray starts the film as a brash, spoiled type who mostly smiles haughtily or makes heartless comments when confronted with the harsh plight of her family's workers. She continues her blasé behavior even while away, with the purpose of helping hide Jory. This sequence with him also gives her a chance to be rather tarty, as films of the early 1930's allowed, not minding whether or not the front door of the cabin locks Jory out while she sleeps. He, in turn, somehow manages to make his gentlemanly restraint toward her believable. But while away with him, eventually her detestation of her cold family means more to her than her desire for family money. That disgust coupled with, perhaps, respect for and identification with Jory and an involuntary response to his plaintive piano playing culminate in a scene, I think, of real drama and pathos as the viewer wonders if she is about to meet a deathly fate. The remaining half of the film in which, predictably, the bad guys lose give reason enough for the Archive to describe the film as "arguably one of the most socialist studio movies from Hollywood's Golden Age." But if for no other reason, one might want to see the film for Wray's skilled performance of a character with her own mind and the unusual chance to see Jory with a more consequential and heroic role than he is usually given.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful.
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