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11 out of 12 people found the following review useful:

Sudser in a girls' school

Author: blanche-2 from United States
28 November 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A young Simone Simon falls for her teacher (Herbert Marshall) in "Girls' Dormitory," a 1936 film set in a European girls' school where the teachers are Herr and Fraulein. When Herbert Marshall is the object of a girl's affections, you know this is an old one. Like the previous poster, this film made me feel old, too, but for a different reason - I didn't like seeing Ruth Chatterton thrown over for this babe! Simon plays a 19-year-old, but like "Ladies in Love" from the same time period, she looks like she's about 15. She's a total dazzler with those pouty lips, exotic eyes, sexy voice, and kittenish presence. She was a natural for "Cat People," that's for sure. And in real life, she was no less of a man magnet - even at an advanced age, she had plenty of male attention.

Herbert Marshall plays the world's most absent-minded professor, failing to see that his colleague, Ruth Chatterton, has been in love with him for years and waiting for a marriage proposal. Similarly, he never catches on that Simon is in love with him either. In the story, Chatterton comes to Simon's defense when a love letter is found by one of the sterner teachers, and a move is afoot to expel her. Chatterton is a lovely actress, in her forties in this film. She only made a few other movies after this one, returning to her theatrical roots for the most of the rest of her career.

Tyrone Power, then billed as Tyrone Power, Jr., as his son is today, has a small role toward the end of the movie. He's gorgeous.

Girls' Dormitory is dated as all get-out, but worth seeing for Chatterton, Simon, and Power when he was beginning to find his place at 20th Century Fox.

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3 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Glorious, romantic old film

Author: istara from Sydney
2 May 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A May-December romance may not be to modern tastes, but there can't be many young women who wouldn't fall for a man like Herbert Marshall if he was their headmaster. He's devastatingly attractive here in an oblivious-to-his-own-charms, mild and scholarly kind of a way, with that legendary voice.

The film is what it is in terms of being a product of its era. The rhythm of the scenes is different from what we are used to today. The social mores are obviously of another era. There's no way a schoolgirl of today would face an intrusive inquisition by the entire teaching staff for something as trivial as an unsent love letter, you can hear the 21st century lawsuits flying.

But this was a different era, and it's a strange delight to just step back in time and absorb it all.

Simone Simon is absolutely luminous on screen. The love scene is exquisite: from Marshall's rain-wet hair falling over his forehead to Simon's declaration that shakes him to the core.

It's a sad film too. You can't help but feel for Ruth Chatterton, and even half wish he'd change his mind and discover his love for her instead of Simon, who is surely young and beautiful enough to love again. Apparently there's a 1931 German film where the headmaster does end up with this colleague. But here he doesn't, and is reunited with Simon in what feels like a somewhat rushed ending.

Girls' Dormitory is only 66 minutes long: there's room for a better ending. More screen time and a subplot for Tyrone Power could have been interesting. Films have become longer each decade, but the average movie in the 1930s by one analysis I found was 96 minutes - half an hour longer. I'm not film historian enough to know why Girls' Dormitory is so short, but perhaps we may feel that its brevity adds to its charm.

Anyway, this is one to enjoy and not agonise too deeply over. Simone Simon's character is 19 after all, and this is from an era where a girl would expect to marry soon after finishing school.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Discover Miss Simone Simon

Author: JLRMovieReviews from United States
20 January 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Herbert Marshall and Ruth Chatterton star in this short film, in the early part of Tyrone Power's career. But it's Simone Simon's movie.

In her first film role, she shines as a budding young woman in this college or school where they enter at 15 and graduate at 19, roughly. Miss Simon has that mystique of Garbo with the allure of Dietrich. Her innocence is not overdone and she gives a very effective and sincere performance as a dreamer in love with the schoolmaster, Herbert.

Some may say it gets into melodramatics as it nears the end with the storm, the school board meeting, and the over-the-top teacher who wants a hearing over the misunderstood letter.

But it provides solid entertainment for little over an hour, and I would recommend this sensitive movie for anyone who wants to discover Miss Simone Simon at her best.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

School Girl nails her teacher

Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
12 May 2011

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

If it were not for the fact that Tyrone Power had a small role that caused Darryl Zanuck to take notice of him, Girl's Dormitory would well be forgotten as it should. I doubt such a film would have been done in an American setting. One was tried called That Hagen Girl and it nearly wrecked the careers of Shirley Temple and Ronald Reagan.

Girl's Dormitory was also to be the debut of young French player Simone Simon and she plays one sly little minx who is going to a boarding school in Germany. A couple of days before graduation she writes and then discards a steamy love letter to an unknown lover. The house matron at the school, Constance Collier finds it and shows it to another teacher J. Edward Bromberg.

Who then raises a big whoop-tee-do at the faculty meeting. Bromberg wants this immoral young lady made an example of and tossed from the school. Remember this is two days before graduation. Simon confesses to another teacher Ruth Chatterton that it was meant for Herbert Marshall the headmaster. Chatterton also has it for Marshall.

After that the film moves right along the path of That Hagen Girl and looks just as stupid as Marshall declares his undying love for Simon. The man was a regular Jerry Lee Lewis, who'd have thunk it, Herbert Marshall.

The most interesting character is the repressed J. Edward Bromberg who acts like the grand inquisitor. In an ironic twist of fate, he would face this in real life from House Un-American Activities Committee and would be the cause of his demise.

Toward the end of the film, Tyrone Power playing a young nobleman tries to chat up Simon in a café. That small scene brought a lot of fan mail in and Darryl Zanuck who had just put together the 20th Century Fox merger knew he had a new male lead star who would be to him what Clark Gable was to Louis B. Mayer at MGM.

So a star was born albeit in a strange birthplace. Girl's Dormitory I'm surprised made it through the omnipresent Code although no sex scenes took place. Other than seeing Ty Power's first real noticeable part, Girl's Dormitory has nothing to recommend it.

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1 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

The very beginning of 20th Century Fox with an awkward May/December romance.

Author: mark.waltz from United States
19 March 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Girl's school professor Herbert Marshall is stunned to find out he is the recipient of love from one of his young students (Simone Simon). Ruth Chatterton is his friend who must help them defend themselves in this soap opera made during 20th Century Fox's first year after the merger of William Fox's studio and Darryl F. Zanuck's 20th Century Pictures. It was a secondary role for Ruth Chatterton in her last major year as a Hollywood star. The same year, she scored a major triumph as the selfish wife in "Dodsworth" (and an Oscar Nomination), and appeared in a fine now forgotten women's film, "Lady of Secrets". After two little seen British films, she was never once again on the big screen, making only sporadic appearances on TV years later. Herbert Marshall, a fine romantic actor, is supposed to be in his 30's here, but is obviously a bit older. It is a bit concerting to see Simone Simon chasing him and for him to fall prey to her charms. (Reverse that with Chatterton going after a much younger man, and in 1936, you'd truly have the Hays code going bonkers.) I was happy though that Simon was presented as sensitive and beautiful as the young innocent Marie, and was not at all cloying in her part. I thought with her voice, she would begin to grate after a while, but I was surprised that she didn't.

Constance Collier, hit by a rock from a slingshot, later a pillow, which causes her skirt to fall down while searching for her glasses, faces all sorts of deserved indignities here. J. Edward Bromberg deserves more than the slap he gets from Ruth Chatterton. He is appropriately despicable, but gets his share of come-uppance from two other teachers who accuse him of taking out his own family aggressions on his pupils. Tyrone Power, whose DVD box set this title appears under, only has a cameo towards the end, and isn't even billed in the opening credits. It's basically a screen test that confirmed his chemistry with the camera. If you can get past the uncomfortableness of the story between Marshall and Ms. Simon, you might find this enjoyable. It is beautifully filmed and gives director Irving Cummings a chance to do something other than the musicals he would mainly be remembered for.

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4 out of 9 people found the following review useful:


Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
17 January 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

This is a film that is mostly enjoyable and engaging until late in the film, when it becomes very, very creepy indeed! In fact, it's May-December romance is much more disturbing and creepy than the famous Ronald Reagan turkey, THAT HAGAN GIRL. How Herbert Marshall and the rest were able to get away with producing such a ridiculously flawed film is beyond me.

The film starts off very well and a lot could have been made of the story. It all begins at a private girls high school in Austria, of all places. Marshall is the beloved head master of the school and practically all the young ladies are infatuated with him. One in particular, Simone Simon, is REALLY infatuated and it's pretty obvious to the audience though inexplicably Marshall and the rest are in the dark about this. Simone's infatuation is so great that she even writes love letters but doesn't send them. When a very prudish and self-righteous teacher finds one of the letters, they want to make an example of her--though she really hasn't really done anything and they have no idea the object of the letters is Marshall. In this inquisitorial climate, Marshall and some of the staff stand up to two vindictive teachers who seem to be on their own private witch hunt, of sorts.

So far, all this is great entertainment. I can't see Marshall as being THAT sexy but this certainly wasn't a major issue, as he was very kind and possessed one of the most beautiful voices in film. However, completely out of the blue, the film falls off the deep end into very creepy territory. Although there was no indication whatsoever that Marshall would reciprocate, when he found out that Simone's letters were fantasy letters about him, he instantly declared his love for her!! This out of the blue declaration made no sense and coming from both a much older man AND one of her teachers really made my skin crawl. I am a male teacher about the same age as Marshall and I teach at a high school. I can assure you that NO ONE would find my declaring my undying love for any of students to be romantic or right in any moral sense. Heck, I'd likely make the TV news! Now I know times have changed and perhaps society might not have taken quite as strong a view about this back then, but even in the 1930s this is really, really weird and must have nauseated the audiences. In the final love scene that occurs just as the film is ending, many must have felt really annoyed or sickened. I know I couldn't enjoy this and saw Marshall's character as a bit of a pedophile.

The only reason I could recommend this film at all is an early appearance by Tyrone Power near the very end. Power fans will no doubt want to see him, but I can assure them that his performance is bland and too short to satisfy.

Finally, I can say only one more thing about the film----Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!!

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8 out of 24 people found the following review useful:

Dated sudser

Author: aromatic-2 ( from New York, NY
15 January 2001

Herbert Marshall does his best with a foolish character and a melodramatic script. Simone is electric on the screen but the chemistry between she and Ruth Chatterton is far more compelling than between Marshall and either one of his leading ladies. I LOVED this movie when I was young, but cannot remember why. Seeing it now just makes me feel very, very old because the mores and standards promulgated are just so outdated.

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