This character study joins the painter at the height of his fame in 1642, when his adored wife suddenly dies and his work takes a dark, sardonic turn that offends his patrons. By 1656, he ... See full summary »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Edward Chapman ...
John Bryning ...
Sam Livesey ...
Herbert Lomas ...
Allan Jeayes ...
John Clements ...
Raymond Huntley ...
Abraham Sofaer ...
Dr. Menasseh
Laurence Hanray ...
Heertsbeeke (as Lawrence Hanray)
Austin Trevor ...
Marquis de Grand-Coeur


This character study joins the painter at the height of his fame in 1642, when his adored wife suddenly dies and his work takes a dark, sardonic turn that offends his patrons. By 1656, he is bankrupt but consoles himself with the company of pretty maid Hendrickje, whom he's unable to marry. Their relationship brings ostracism but also some measure of happiness. The final scenes find him in his last year, 1669, physically enfeebled but his spirit undimmed. Written by Rod Crawford <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


He knew all women! Their lives...Loves...Their souls! See more »


Biography | Drama


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Release Date:

25 December 1936 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

I zoi tou Rembrandt  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


This film was included in the first syndicated television presentation of a package of major studio feature films on USA television; it premiered in Los Angeles Tuesday 7 September 1948 on KTLA (Channel 5) and in New York City Friday November 5, 1948 on WPIX (Channel 11). The package consisted of 24 Alexander Korda productions originally released theatrically between 1933 and 1942. See more »


When Rembrandt reveals the newly completed painting, 'The Night Watch', we see not the full, original version that he in fact painted, but the drastically butchered version that was made over 40 years after his death, when the painting was moved from its original exhibition space in the Kloveniersdoelen to a less capacious display space in the Amsterdam Town Hall in 1715. See more »


Rembrandt van Rijn: And of a sudden he knew that when one woman gives herself to you, you possess all women. Women of every age and race and kind, and more than that, the moon, the stars, all miracles and legends are yours. Brown-skinned girls who inflame your senses with their play, cool yellow-haired women who entice and escape you, gentle ones who serve you, slender ones who torment you, the mothers who bore and suckled you; all women whom God created out of the teeming fullness of the earth, are yours in the ...
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User Reviews

brilliant performance by Charles Laughton
28 April 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Charles Laughton is "Rembrandt" in this 1936 film he made for Alexander Korda, one of three films he made in England during this time.

The story takes us through Rembrandt's sad life, and manages at the same time to leave out a lot of sadness. The film shows his son Titus, but there were several other children who did not survive. The great tragedy of Rembrandt's life was the death of his wife Saskia, whom he painted often. Rembrandt was also known for asking Jews to pose for his Old Testament paintings, which are informed by his knowledge of the Bible.

There were two other women in Rembrandt's life: his common-law wife Hendrickje Stoffels (Elsa Lanchester) and his housekeeper, Geertje Dirx (Gertrude Lawrence) who evidently became his lover. She later sued Rembrandt for breach of promise, and he had to pay her 200 guilders a month. For years he tried to get her committed.

Rembrandt is shown falling into poverty here. When his fortunes dimmed as an artist, he continued to work as a teacher. Bad investments were the main cause of his problems. In truth, his paintings remained popular throughout his lifetime, and the one for which he is chastised in the film actually was a huge hit.

Laughton portrays Rembrandt as a man of tremendous artistic integrity, a learned man with soul, heart, and a great feeling for language. Indeed, Laughton's monologues are absolutely beautiful; had he read the phone book, I would have been just as enraptured. Elsa Lanchester is very young here, all eyes, and gives a very sweet performance as the frail Hendrickje. Gertrude Lawrence is an absolute spitfire as Geertje.

Wonderful film. Don't miss this breathtaking Laughton performance.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Laughton's soooooooooothing and sensuous... JK21
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