7.0/10
1,673
32 user 11 critic

The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934)

Elizabeth Barrett's tyrannical father has forbidden any of his family to marry. Nevertheless, Elizabeth falls in love with the poet Robert Browning.

Director:

Sidney Franklin

Writers:

Rudolph Besier (from the play by) (as Rudolf Besier), Ernest Vajda (screen play) | 2 more credits »
Reviews
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 1 win. See more awards »

Photos

Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Norma Shearer ... Elizabeth Barrett
Fredric March ... Robert Browning
Charles Laughton ... Edward Moulton-Barrett
Maureen O'Sullivan ... Henrietta Barrett
Katharine Alexander ... Arabel Barrett
Ralph Forbes ... Captain Surtees Cook
Marion Clayton Anderson Marion Clayton Anderson ... Bella Hedley (as Marion Clayton)
Ian Wolfe ... Harry Bevan
Ferdinand Munier ... Dr. Chambers
Una O'Connor ... Wilson
Leo G. Carroll ... Dr. Ford-Waterlow (as Leo Carroll)
Vernon Downing Vernon Downing ... Octavius Barrett
Neville Clark Neville Clark ... Charles Barrett
Matthew Smith Matthew Smith ... George Barrett
Robert Carleton Robert Carleton ... Alfred Barrett
Edit

Storyline

In 1845 London, the Barrett family is ruled with an iron fist by its stern widowed patriarch, Edward Moulton-Barrett. His nine grown children are afraid of him more than they love him. One of his rules is that none of his children are allowed to marry, which does not sit well with youngest daughter Henrietta as she loves and wants to marry Captain Surtees Cook. Of the nine, the one exception is his daughter Elizabeth, who abides faithfully to her father's wishes. Elizabeth does not think too much about the non-marriage rule as she has an unknown chronic illness which has kept her bedridden. She feels her life will not be a long one. With her time, she writes poetry, which she shares by correspondence with another young poet, Robert Browning. Elizabeth's outlook on her life changes when she meets Mr. Browning for the first time, he who has fallen in love with her without even having met her. She, in return, falls in love with him after their meeting. With Mr. Browning's love and ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The play that captured the heart of the world is now the finest triumph of the screen! A glorious memory of two who triumphed against a world that sought to crush their love! (Print Ad-Owosso Argus-Press, ((Owosso, Mich.)) 5 October 1934) See more »


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Charles Laughton, who played the father of Norma Shearer's character in the film, was actually only three years older than Shearer. See more »

Goofs

The beginning of the film is set in 1845, but in the first scene Henrietta is shown singing 'Little Brown Jug', which wasn't written until 1869. See more »

Quotes

Robert Browning: Oh, nothing they told me about you, personally, had the slightest interests for me. Because I knew it already. And better than they.
Elizabeth Barrett: Oh, Mr. Browning, do my writings give me so hopelessly away?
Robert Browning: Hopelessly, utterly, entirely - to me. Of course, I can't speak for the rest of the world.
Elizabeth Barrett: I pray it would be quite useless, by ever trying to play act with you.
Robert Browning: Quite useless.
Elizabeth Barrett: I shall always have to be - just myself?
Robert Browning: Always.
See more »

Connections

Version of The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1982) See more »

Soundtracks

Wilt Thou Have My Hand
(1934) (uncredited)
Music by Herbert Stothart
Words by Elizabeth Barrett Browning
Performed by Norma Shearer (piano and vocal)
Reprised by her, Maureen O'Sullivan, Katharine Alexander, Vernon Downing,
Neville Clark, Matthew Smith, Robert Carleton, Allan Conrad and Peter Hobbes
See more »

User Reviews

Simply Amazing
14 January 2004 | by EightyProof45See all my reviews

The Barretts of Wimpole Street is one of the finest play-to-film adaptations of the 1930s. Although its script, photography, and direction are all first-rate, it is still the grand performances that make this film appealing even today. The above-the-title trio had all won Academy Awards in the two or three years prior, and demonstrate their supreme thespian abilities in their roles. Towering above all is Norma Shearer, as bedridden invalid Elizabeth "Ba" Barrett. Although she speaks the lines in that sophisticated voice of hers, the scenes that strike the viewer greatest are ironically those without dialog at all. Take for example the scene immediately following her first visit with Browning. After he leaves her bedroom, the invalid struggles to her feet, and in one take, tries with all her heart to get over to the window so she can see him once more, leaving. In another scene, set a few months later, she is informed that Mr. Browning has come to visit her. Again, overcoming her bedridden state, she not only gets up, but also decides to go to see him downstairs instead of having him come up. Her eyes and hands express so much, and as she descends (without much dialog), her whole self-sense seem to elevate. Only a short while later, however, her domineering father orders her back upstairs. He wishes to carry her, but she insists on walking. In a magnificent William Daniels close-up, the camera stays on her face as her father tells her off camera that she will not succeed. Shearer's genius here lies in the change of facial expressions, as her reactions to her father's criticisms finally take their toll and she collapses. Quite simply, its another of Norma Shearer's brilliant characterizations, and one of the most different roles the actress ever played. March, second-billed as Browning, is a little histrionic. He gave a better performance opposite Shearer in 1932's Smilin' Through, but his performance here does not detract from the film, and his forcefulness seems strangely potent at times. As the glowering father, Laughton is amazing. The infamous "gleam" in his eye is there in many scenes, and when he carries his daughter up the stairs, its almost perverted (albeit brilliant). Maureen O'Sullavan is phenomenal as Elizabeth's young-and-in-love, rebellious sister, and Una O'Connor is in great form as her graceful maid.

A feast for fine acting, The Barretts of Wimpole Street is one of the most appealing of all costume dramas of Hollywood's golden age. It still stands (as it shall for many years to come) as a lasting tribute to two larger-than-life literary icons.

****point of interest****in 1957, Barretts was admirably remade by the same director (Sidney Franklin) at M-G-M (as was this version). Although not nearly as good as the original, fine performances from Jennifer Jones (Elizabeth) and John Gielgud (Papa Barrett) again captured on film Rudolph Besier's classic roles.


43 of 48 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 32 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

21 September 1934 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Forbidden Alliance See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(Turner library print)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page



Recently Viewed