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Architect Peter Ibbetson is hired by the Duke of Towers to design a building for him. Ibbetson discovers that the Duchess of Towers, Mary, is his now-grown childhood sweetheart. Their love revives, but Peter is sentenced to life in prison for an accidental killing. Mary comes to him in dreams and they are able to live out their romance in a dream world. Written by
Jim Beaver <email@example.com>
In the abstract,"Peter Ibbetson" is a lovely idea. It's quite another matter in practical terms. It gets off to a good start with the principals as children - in fact, the child actors are better than the adult versions, which is one of my main objections to the film. I am a fan of Gary Cooper despite his limitations as an actor. He's great in action pictures - the strong, silent type with a minimum of expression and dialogue. But he's in over his head as the title character and just lacks the required acting range. There are scenes in which a better actor would register the nuance and facial expression necessary, but Coop registers... not much, I'm afraid. Ann Harding is pretty in a dowdy, fat-faced sort of way but is simply not good enough for the part.
Having said that, the picture has a lovely score and the pacing is brisk. Director Hathaway had a long and distinguished career in Hollywood and does his darndest here but is hamstrung by my second objection, the last half of the story, which is, ah, a challenge. I can appreciate fantasy but, ladies and gentlemen, this is over-the-top fantasy and I know when I'm being taken for a ride.
I tried, Lord knows, I tried to go with it, but give me a break. I found the first half of the picture hauntingly beautiful ,as a professional movie reviewer might say. And I am as romantic as the next guy. I found the scene in which they re-connected after so many years very touching. I found the scenes between their parting as children even more so. But not the 'dream' scenes as adults - those were far-fetched, and let's leave it at that.
There is a question that comes with our reviews on the website that asks, "Did you find this review useful?". This review IS useful, even if you don't agree with it. I just think that there is a fine line between romanticism and goofiness.
4 of 6 people found this review helpful.
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