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Peter Ibbetson
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Peter Ibbetson More at IMDbPro »

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26 out of 27 people found the following review useful:

Great Film

10/10
Author: FERNANDO SILVA from Santiago de Chile.
25 June 2005

Once again, like many other film's I've finally come to see, after reading so many about them and longing to have the opportunity of watching them (i.e. "Trouble in Paradise"), I was afraid this one was not going to meet my expectations, and I was wrong.

First of all, Gary Cooper really impressed me so favorably; so early in his career he was able to handle such a difficult role and give a complex and sensitive performance, conveying Peter Ibbetson's ethereal aspects. Gary Cooper was really a fine actor (not only a charming personality and huge star), good at Drama, Adventure, Western, Romance, Comedy et al.

Cooper portrays the idealistic Peter Ibbetson, a young man so deeply attached to his childhood memories, that he cannot feel fulfilled or happy, in spite that he's supposed to have everything a man would wish, to find happiness.

Ann Harding, on the other hand, of whose performance regarding this film I've read that she wasn't ethereal enough to play this part (Peter Ibbetson's childhood sweetheart, Mary), I must say that I found her well suited to it, as always giving a sincere, sensitive, natural and restrained performance, looking perfect in period clothes.

Both lead performers transmit truth into their characterizations, embodying the love that transcends all the obstacles or "L'amour fou" as French defined it, giving endearing performances. Beautiful Cinematography by the great Charles Lang and great sets by Hans Dreier.

John Halliday plays expertly the stern Duke of Towers; Ida Lupino looks pretty and shows her great talent in a supporting role as a vulgar English woman Peter Ibbetson befriends in Paris and Douglass Drumbille is the "menacing at first sight", uncle of the Title character.

Mention apart deserve lovely Virginia Weidler and Dickie Moore, who portray the leading stars as children, giving impressive, terrific performances. Their scenes together have been among the most heart-wrenching and sincere I've ever seen, featuring a couple of child actors (the 1949 film "The Secret Garden" featuring Dean Stockwell and Margaret O'Brien comes to my mind).

If you liked such pictures as "Smilin' Through", "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir", "I'll Never Forget You", "Berkeley Square", "Somewhere in Time" or "Portrait of Jennie", you must see this one.

The DVD transfer (released by Universal as part of the "Gary Cooper Collection") is of very good quality.

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28 out of 32 people found the following review useful:

Extraordinary,highly original romantic fantasy which deserves to be far better known

Author: DrLenera from UK
9 May 2005

Sometimes you watch a film which is so good that you wonder why it isn't better known. Peter Ibbetson is such a film. It takes a concept which is highly original but undoubtedly 'out there' and makes you believe in it for just under an hour and a half. It also manages to be a truly moving love story whose basic concept,a man and a woman who are apart for most of their lives meet in their dreams,and it's message,that love does indeed conquer all, should warm the hearts {and shed the tears}of die hard romantics everywhere.

It's a bit stilted as many 30s films are,especially at first,but Charles Lang's expressionistic photography immediately creates a fairy tale feeling. The growing love between the young boy and girl is extremely touching. When they meet again as adults,it seems like the film is going to settle down into being a conventional love triangle tale {she's married}. Then the film suddenly changes,and although separated the two lovers carry out their relationship in their dreams. The film is quite subtle is depicting the dream world,although there are wonderful touches,such as the fairy tale castle that she creates with her imagination,only for it to crumble when he fails to believe in it. As for the ending,well,you would have to be very strong not to shed a tear. Like much of the film,it's almost underplayed,and is all the more moving for not being over the top.

Gary Cooper shows once again what a great actor he was in his early days {as in A Farewell To Arms},really making us feel his character's pain and joy,although Ann Harding is perhaps a bit too earthy for her role. Director Henry Hathaway was generally a solid craftsman,but here he shows real engagement in his story.A great deal of attention is paid to set design,look at the way for instance the pair are often separated by bars of some sort in the 'real'world. Also notable is the music score by Ernest Toch,suitably romantic,but quite low key and sparse-Max Steiner would have plastered the film with music,but would it have really been as effective?

Peter Ibbetson is a wonderful movie, and deserves to be ranked with some of the more better known fantasy romances of Hollywood's Golden Age. I'd actually like to see a remake of this,as it's such an amazing idea. But before that let's have a DVD release,please!

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17 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

A Rare Gem from the Golden Age of Hollywood

Author: malvernp from United States
18 March 2007

If you are at this site and reading about "Peter Ibbetson"-----congratulations on having an exotic taste in films coupled with a deep-seated fascination with romance, fantasy, destiny and the power of love to conquer the most formidable of difficulties! We have seen a number of films from Hollywood's Golden Age that touched upon similar themes. From "Death Takes a Holiday" (1934) to "Here Comes Mr. Jordan" (1941), we suffered along with sympathetic lovers whose path to true fulfillment was strewn with seemingly insurmountable obstacles. But in the end---somehow-----the force of love overcame every problem to ultimately allow for what was meant to be.

These stories are ageless and have appeared as recently as "Somewhere In Time" (1980) and "Meet Joe Black" (1998)---itself a reworking of "Death Takes a Holiday." "Peter Ibbetson" may be one of the very best films to explore the force of destiny on young lovers linked from childhood to be together "forever." The beauty of this film is in its design, execution and performances.

Henry Hathaway, the director, worked with Gary Cooper earlier in 1935 in the rousing action adventure "Lives of a Bengal Lancer." Are there two more dissimilar films than these? It is a tribute to Hathaway's skill and artistry that he could make both stories work so well when they were completed almost at the same time.

Cooper excelled in portraying sensitive characters ("Pride of the Yankees" (1942), "Sergeant York" (1941), etc.) and Peter Ibbetson was well within his range of projecting an introspective romantic hero whose great love must be found in the world of dreams. It is a fine, deeply felt performance.

Ann Harding, not well known today as a romantic actress, captures the complexity and subtlety of the story. Her ability to will the Cooper character into believing that their love must persist even if it exists only in their own imagination is both powerful and enduring.

When contemporary critics take shots at the old Hollywood Studio System as nothing more than a glorified factory grinding out entertainment fodder for the masses, they ought to take a look at this strange, moving and truly unusual film. Its creators probably knew going in that it was not likely to be a box office hit given the nature of the subject matter. The fact that it was made at all and in such a sumptuous manner is an excellent tribute to the taste of the powers that be at Paramount.

Seek out "Peter Ibbetson," You will be transported to a world that no longer exists---and into a story that requires the viewer to be a real romantic with great imagination. It will reward you with a deeply touching tale where true love finally wins out under the most extraordinary of circumstances. What more need be said?

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17 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Review - Very good film

Author: simon_crbrewer71 from London
2 January 2000

A very sensitive and beautifully photographed film, with some strong performances. I had looked forward to seeing it for quite a time, as I had seen it recommended in print a few times. Last Christmas I missed it, but I caught it this time round (even though - again - it was put on at a very early time by the BBC). Basically it's a romance - but one which has a great deal of feeling to it. It's aesthetic appeal reminds me of Letter From An Unknown Woman. Yet when I viewed that one again recently it disappointed me. This one though had even more of an emotional impact (like when I saw La Strada a few years ago). It isn't really surrealistic, but it does have a power and is likely to linger in your memory. The ending is actually positive as well. It has a remarkable ability to make you believe in it, and to therebye become involved.

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18 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Haunting romance, sweet, sad and hopeful. A classic!

10/10
Author: larry41onEbay from Culpeper, VA
9 October 2000

I watched this dreamy romantic film decades ago on TV and it has haunted me ever since. When I tell friends about the plot line we both get misty eyed thinking of the sweet, sad ideology behind this forgotten romantic film. This film does what movie do best. It takes a good book and play and transports them beyond into a world of fantasy that can only be brought about through the magic of Hollywood. This is another example of a film that was not a blockbuster when originally released so it's not available today on video or DVD. But if it was released thousands maybe millions of folks could turn it into a classic like IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE!

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17 out of 21 people found the following review useful:

Coop transcends space, his own corporeal reality, and death itself; finds true love.

10/10
Author: FilmSnobby from San Diego
12 June 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Well, it's finally here, all you rabid film enthusiasts. *Peter Ibbetson* -- never before released for home consumption, not even on VHS, and very rarely revived in art-houses since its 1935 flopped release -- is now on DVD as part of Universal's new "Gary Cooper Collection". On this five-movie set, *Ibbetson* is clearly the crown jewel, though the others are certainly worth a look, depending on your degree of interest (I've already reviewed on these pages Lubitsch's *Design for Living*, which should interest anybody interested in good movies). *Peter Ibbetson* is the very definition of the term "cult classic": its extreme rarity admits only a select club of in-the-know members, and its surrealist subject-matter -- sundered lovers who communicate to each other through their dreams -- especially as realized by such American workmen as director Henry Hathaway and actor Gary Cooper, makes this movie irresistible to the cinephile.

It also appeals to other disparate types, such as the chick-flick connoisseur -- for what can be more deliriously romantic than lovers who live in their own telekinetic, dream-world universe? It's the kind of movie where Cooper builds Ann Harding a glistening castle in the air, made out of clouds and stardust, only to see it crumble when he doesn't believe strongly enough in his own dream. For those who will find all of this rather silly or at least doubtful, I can tell you that the unremitting sense of tragedy throughout the story's arc helps to keep things grounded and cleans out any extraneous gossamer. The entire movie depends upon the lovers' grievous separation, from childhood onward to old age, and Coop spends the majority of his adult life shackled in prison for a crime from which he should have been exonerated. Rather than commit suicide or allow himself to die after a savage beating from a jailer, he decides to go on living so that he can spend every night with his girlfriend, who is sharing the same dream with him. Romantic enough for you, ladies?

Of course, the real points of the story are both the indomitable longevity of the libido and the endless resources contained within the human imagination -- fertile grounds for Surrealism. Not surprisingly, Luis Bunuel considered *Peter Ibbetson* to be one of the 10 greatest films ever made. The dreamy set-design, the gauzy photography by Charles Lang, and the beautiful score by Ernst Toch contribute to the generally bizarre feeling that the movie evokes. It's a rare American film, from any era, that insists on dreams having at least as much, if not more, significance than so-called "reality", but such is the case here in this mainstream release from 1935. The movie failed with mainstream audiences then, and probably wouldn't sit well with mainstream audiences today. Americans have always been practical people, even during the Great Depression: their need for escapism back then clearly didn't outweigh their reluctance to accept Coop as an English architect suffering the pangs of transcendent love that is stronger than the grave. (Their loss.) I suspect the same is true of audiences today, who, when they bother to watch old movies, certainly do not want to see one in which Gary Cooper wanders through a European-style art-movie directed by an action-adventure journeyman like Henry Hathaway. (Their loss.)

10 stars out of 10.

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12 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

All we have to do is dream..

10/10
Author: dbdumonteil
27 March 2008

To think that Henry Hathaway made the same year "the lives of a Bengal Lancer" and "Peter Ibbetson"!Both are classics in their genre :the first was an adventures film no one could do today;the second one is simply my favorite Hathaway movie.I know it was his favorite too.

"Lancer" and "Peter" could not be more different,they are worlds apart,and who could believe the same director (and actor) made the two works?

"Peter Ibbetson" had a strong influence on the French cinema of the thirties/forties ,particularly those of Marcel Carné ("Les Visiteurs du Soir""Juliette ou La Clé des Songes" ) Marcel Lherbier ("la Nuit Fantastique" ) and Cocteau/Delannoy ("L'Eternel Retour").Henry Hathaway's film spawned a whole school of "escapism" cinema.

The first part deals with childhood and depicts the worst misfortune a young boy can know:the death of his mother.It takes place in the chic suburbs of Paris ,where,we are told,wealthy English people own their town house.After his mother's decease ,"Gogo" is separated from the little girl with a white dress...and returns to England where he will live with his uncle.

Peter/Gogo's only desire (and it's everyone's desire ) is to come back to this lost paradise ,to the place he was a child ..Early in the movie,we have a first pilgrimage with a girl (Ida Lupino ,a future great actress/director in one of her first parts)who does not care (she cannot share his memories)and whose only interest is the swing.

Although he briefly appears ,Slade is a very important character.He is a blind man,but he can see;his words are not different from those by Saint Exupery in "Le Petit Prince" -which was yet to come for it was published in 1943) ("It is only with the heart that one can rightly see;what is essential is invisible to the eyes") If the heart can give eyesight to the blind ,then what can true absolute love do?When you are in jail,a paralyzed prisoner ,what can you expect from life?

The last part is one of the peaks of the American cinema of the thirties ,predating dozens of films not only the French escapism movies from the German Occupation but also such works as "Stairway to Heaven" (Powell) or "Portrait of Jennie" (Dieterle) and "Bid Time Return" (Swarc) These dreams when the lovers meet up are the impossible return to childhood man longs for in his whole life;but these dreams are fragile:the castle Peter built for his beloved one is nothing when the storm set in.A surrealistic film,"Peter Ibbetson" is love's triumph over everything:the laws that man made,our Cartesian spirit ,even death itself.Just make your dream longer than the night.

Gary Cooper and Ann Harding have become legendary hearts.

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11 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Very sad

10/10
Author: Caz1964 from England
30 March 2006

This film is one of five on The Gary Cooper Collection,they are all good films,and this one is my personal favourite of them.Its beautifully acted and deeply emotional,its a very well written story that is like no other story that i know of,especially from 1935.It may have been a little bit ambitious when it was released back then,as it was the depression era,and not much use to an audience who must have been feeling very low in spirits and full of worries,and weren't prepared for escapism.If the film had been made over a decade later the audience would have appreciated it more.But then many great classics were big flops in their day,Its a wonderful life was one,and thats hard to believe now isn't it,when its now the biggest Xmas selling film of all time.It would be nice to see this film have more recognition,i hope its time will come one day.

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8 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Serious, Memorable and Deserving

8/10
Author: Kara Dahl Russell from United States
12 February 2007

This 1933 Gary Cooper film is highly regarded and mentioned in many film books. It was a serious film in tone and content, and also in it's techniques. Initially, it seems a rather bland melodrama about two childhood sweethearts who are parted then reunited. The blandness is somewhat heightened by the visual blandness of Ann Harding, the female star. (She is blonde, but very visually monochromatic… minimal eyebrows or eye make-up, which makes her seem very very plain, even though she is pretty.) This was the "taste of the times" for a serious "good" woman, and the reason I have this listed as an 8 is that it is definitely dated, and will be much too slow for many viewers.

The story is about dreams and architecture, so keep an eye on the buildings, there are really inventive and beautiful buildings. The stable that is supposed to be "horrible" is like a forest cottage in a fairy tale. The child casting at the beginning is funny by today's standards of continuity. These actually are pretty good child actors for the time – not cloying or overly precious - but the boy's coloring is quite dissimilar to the adult. Big brown eyes of the boy becoming the famous baby blues of Cooper. But let these things go, and the early scenes are an effective and emotionally effective set up for the payoff.

The best part of the film comes in the last third. Suddenly, we are in an expressive fantasy – completely grounded in the earlier part, but also completely different. Not only are the effects here still magical, reminiscent of Durer etchings, but they are also really overwhelming when we think about how difficult it was to achieve these effects in this time period. (Any thing that fades in or out - this had to be done by re-filming with the same piece of film, etc.) While never named, it is clearly colored by the "astral body" theories of the Eastern religions that were popular in Hollywood at the time, having a strong influence on art, architecture, and design during this period.

Ultimately this is a beautiful and memorable film about the strength of love, dreams, and the triumph of pure heart. This makes for a very quiet but powerful film. (Quiet and powerful became the hallmark of Cooper's screen character.) The strength of this film is its simplicity of message, and the really memorable and soulful performance of Cooper.

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8 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Transcending love and destiny into one concept

8/10
Author: james charity
21 April 2001

It may sound like cheap romance, but that is exactly what that movie is about. Only it carries it with such simple force and poetic candor that it makes you forget a certain general stiffness in the acting. Filming has vintage qualities and limitations that can only bring concentration on the story. To me, it has provided one of those rare experiences of strange likenesses with the original material of dreams. Sorry for the improvisation and my stilted English.

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