7.6/10
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46 user 23 critic

Waterloo Bridge (1931)

A prostitute's self-loathing makes her reluctant to marry an idealistic soldier during World War One.

Director:

James Whale

Writers:

Robert E. Sherwood (from the stage play by), Benn W. Levy (adaptation) (as Benn Levy) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Mae Clarke ... Myra
Douglass Montgomery ... Roy Cronin (as Kent Douglass)
Doris Lloyd ... Kitty
Frederick Kerr ... Major Wetherby
Enid Bennett ... Mrs. Wetherby
Bette Davis ... Janet Cronin
Ethel Griffies ... Mrs. Hobley
Rita Carlyle Rita Carlyle ... The Old Woman (as Rita Carlisle)
Ruth Handforth Ruth Handforth ... Augusta - the Maid
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Storyline

In World War I London, Myra is an American out of work chorus girl making ends meet by picking up men on Waterloo Bridge. During a Zeppelin air raid she meets Roy, a naive young American who enlisted in the Canadian army. They fall for each other, and he tricks Myra into visiting his family who live in a country estate outside London, where his step-father is a retired British Major. However Myra is reluctant to continue the relationship with Roy, because she has not told him about her past. Written by Will Gilbert

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

As this picture unfolds on the screen, you will find no maudlin, mushy, run-of-the-mill story, but a triumph of human emotion depicting the glamour of an all-conquering love in the sordid surroundings of a great city. (Print Ad- The Castilian, ((Castile, NY)) 8 October 1931)

Genres:

Drama | Romance

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

November 1931 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

A Ponte de Waterloo See more »

Filming Locations:

Pasadena, California, USA

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Box Office

Budget:

$251,289 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.20 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film is an adaption of the original Broadway production of "Waterloo Bridge" by Robert E. Sherwood opened at the Fulton Theatre on January 6, 1930 and ran for 64 performances. Sherwood had based his play on his own wartime experiences, including a chance meeting during a 1918 air raid with an American chorus girl turned streetwalker. See more »

Goofs

Near the end, when Roy goes out looking for Myra, the "sky" he walks under can be seen to be quite wrinkled - it's really a canvas backdrop. See more »

Quotes

Myra: Did he say he'd marry me?
Kitty: Well, not quite. But, he was coming to it though when you busted in and interrupted him. He's yours, I tell ya.
Myra: What if I don't want him?
Kitty: Well, what if you don't? What's the odds? All you have to do is go through with the ceremony, collect his separation allowance and live in luxury. Then, there's your insurance, if he gets knocked off in action.
See more »

Connections

Version of Gaby (1956) See more »

Soundtracks

God Save the King
Traditional; earliest known version by John Bull (1562-1628)
Sung at the music hall
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Sweet, not saccharine, daring, and some sharply fresh performances
3 December 2009 | by secondtakeSee all my reviews

Waterloo Bridge (1931)

An amazing movie. Set in London during World War I, directed by the man who directed the original (and also amazing) Frankenstein, and with photography by the less known but first rate Arthur Edeson (Frankenstein, yes, but also Casablanca, no less). And throw in an astonishing actress, Mae Clarke, and you can see why it doesn't falter. She plays a struggling chorus girl and prostitute with snappy, lively believability. The lead male, Douglass Montgomery, playing a sweet hearted American soldier, is also a surprise face, totally charming, a perfect complement to Clarke. As characters, the young soldier's bright optimism brings out the best in the struggling but good hearted street girl.

The story is fast, and not completely predictable, and has a blow-out of an ending, really nice. Though set in the teens it feels modern (maybe too modern, historically). I never knew that London had a kind of Blitz experience in WWI, just as they would a decade after this film was released, and looking it up I found the Germans used zeppelins over London in the first war much the same was as they did (with planes) in WWII--to demoralize the civilian population. It adds tense excitement to the film throughout, and to the last scenes in particular, even if it isn't completely realistic (for some reason people don't scramble for cover even as the bombs are being dropped, maybe to portray that stiff upper lip thing).

Is this just a silly romance? No, no way, not when the two actors in it are so fresh and convincing, giving sparkling, nuanced performances miles away from the stiffness we associate with early sound films (or with many silent movies). This is a first rate and fast movie and honest, only 79 minutes long, with fully formed soundtrack and solid supporting cast (including a young Betty Davis, who is already confident and familiar as the sister of the leading man). The LeRoy remake of 1940 is a testimony to the strength of the story (and it is also really good). But if you want to see an early gem on its own terms, here it is. Highly recommended.


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