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Old English (1930)

Passed | | Drama | 27 September 1930 (USA)
An old man unethically provides an income for his two grandchildren.


Alfred E. Green


John Galsworthy (play), Walter Anthony (screen adaptation) | 1 more credit »




Complete credited cast:
George Arliss ... Sylvanus Heythorp
Doris Lloyd ... Mrs. Rosamond Larne
Harrington Reynolds Harrington Reynolds ... Gilbert Farney
Reginald Sheffield ... Bob Pillin
Betty Lawford ... Phyllis Larne
Murray Kinnell ... Charles Ventnor
Ivan F. Simpson ... Joe Pillin (as Ivan Simpson)
Leon Janney ... Jock Larne
Ethel Griffies ... Adela Heythorp
Joan McLain Joan McLain ... Molly
Henry Morrell Henry Morrell ... Meller (as Henry Morell)


Although octogenarian Sylvanus Heythorp is still chairman of a shipping company, he is £14,000 in debt to creditors from a personal loan which he cannot repay. He is well-liked and affectionately called 'Old English' by the people of Liverpool, allowing him to settle a fixed amount to be paid from his salary, which all but one of the creditors, Charles Ventnor, begrudgingly accept. Ventnor asks Heythorp to settle his £300 debt to him in full, but Heythorp refuses. Mrs. Rosamund Larne, the widowed wife of Heythorpe's late illegitimate son, asks for an increase in his support money, among other changes she was forced to make she has eliminated dance and music lessons her daughter was receiving. His grandchildren, Phyllis and Jock love him dearly and call him by the nickname 'Gardy', but they do not know he is their grandfather. He hits upon an idea to provide them with an independent income for life, by buying four ships for his company from owner Joe Pillin for £60,000, and taking a 10... Written by Arthur Hausner <genart@volcano.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


What a Grand Old Sinner He Was! (Print Ad- New York Sun, ((New York NY)) 25 September 1930) See more »




Passed | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


George Arliss is credited as "Mr. George Arliss" on the title page, but the "Mr." is dropped for the comprehensive cast list. See more »

User Reviews

Early Arliss talkie has residue of silent hammy scenes
2 June 2014 | by SimonJackSee all my reviews

Few people today likely have heard of George Arliss, let alone this 1930 film in which he starred. I would be among that group also, but for my interest in cinema, its history, and much to do with the people and products of the industry. "Old English" is based on a John Galsworthy story, "Old Heythorp," and the screenplay was written by Galsworthy himself from his stage play which he renamed "Old English."

While Arliss was one of the very good actors of early cinema, he was one who "progressed" from silent films to talkies. That's my nice way of saying that it took him some time to get over the exaggerated expressions and hammy looks at the camera that were part of the silent era. These were traits in some early Arliss talkies that drew negative comments from the critics. Apparently, he was particularly hammy in some of the biopics in which he acted (films on the lives of Disraeli, Voltaire, Alexander Hamilton, etc.). But he got over that in time and gave some smashing performances.

Unfortunately, this is one of the early Arliss films that has a number of hammy scenes. While the plot is interesting, and his character is very enjoyable, "Old English" has a stagy feel to it as well. The poorer production qualities, with these other shortcomings can't earn this film a very high rating. But it is worth viewing for Arliss and an interesting little plot.

John Galsworthy, incidentally, grew up learning his family's shipping business. Although trained to be a barrister in England, he forsook his education for travel, adventure, and writing. He met Joseph Conrad on one of his early trips to Australia, and the two future novelists became good friends. Conrad was then serving as first mate on a ship. Most people today will know Galsworthy from "The Forsyte Saga," although he wrote many novels, short stories and screenplays. Many of his stories were put on stage and some were made into movies. Besides "Forsyte," other notable films were "The Skin Game" in 1931 by Alfred Hitchcock, "Escape" in 1926 with two films, and others.

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Release Date:

27 September 1930 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Vitaphone)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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