Dizzy society matron Emily Kilbourne has a habit of hiring ex-cons and hobos as servants. Her latest find is a handsome "tramp" who shows up at her doorstep and soon ends up in a ... See full summary »
Norman Z. McLeod
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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 ... See full summary »
While this film doesn't seem to have impressed Michael much, I found it somewhat better than SINNERS IN PARADISE (1938) though, obviously, not quite in the same league as Whale's irreproachable horror output.
The film's plot, though essentially contrived, makes for a very interesting melodrama: actually, this was a remake of the same director's THE KISS BEFORE THE MIRROR (1933) and the only review I could find called it "tame and uninspired" when compared to the "more visually striking" Pre-Code original (that was apparently shot on leftover sets from Whale's own FRANKENSTEIN !) - all of which makes me want to watch the 1933 film even more...
Despite its 'B' picture status, however, the film is stylishly handled by a master craftsman (right from the opening credit sequence) with special care given to camera-work, lighting and décor - not to mention the recurring use of montages; in fact, the latter sequences - along with the hectic pace and the theme itself - recalled some of the social conscience films being made contemporaneously by Warner Bros.! Warren William and Ralph Morgan give solid performances and their scenes together - particularly the latter's confession and the subsequent trial - are certainly among the film's highlights. Unfortunately, however, as was the case with the blackface scene from Whale's own REMEMBER LAST NIGHT? (1935), the film's stereotyped depiction of William's black maid would, most probably, not go down well with today's audiences!
While I never really understood why certain directors needed to remake their own films, I'm certainly glad it happened in this case - particularly since the original doesn't seem to be readily available (a regrettable situation with regards to most of Whale's non-horror titles!), but also because his second stab at the story has certainly made for a pretty good film in its own right.
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