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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 »
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 1 win. See more awards »

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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 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
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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:

When poets love, Heaven and Earth fall back to watch!


Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

21 September 1934 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Forbidden Alliance See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) See more »
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 »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

A modern source lists Robert Bolder in the role of "Old Man" and Margaret Seddon as cast members, but they were not seen in the movie. 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

Elizabeth Barrett: Why do you tell me this?
Henrietta Barrett: Because I want you to say that I'm a wicked, deceitful, purged, loose woman!
See more »

Connections

Version of The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1957) See more »

Soundtracks

Little Brown Jug
(1869) (uncredited)
Music and Lyrics by Joseph Winner
Sung by Norma Shearer, Maureen O'Sullivan, Katharine Alexander, Vernon Downing,
Neville Clark, Matthew Smith, Robert Carleton, Allan Conrad and Peter Hobbes
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Laughton is brilliant, but film could have used more of Robert and Elizabeth's relationship
1 December 2016 | by Antonius BlockSee all my reviews

The love story between Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett is legendary, and her 'Sonnets from the Portuguese' contains some of the beautiful love poetry ever written. They were both already established poets when they began corresponding, but she was an invalid, and had doubts and insecurities that he helped overcome with steady, persistent, genuine love. What I had forgotten about their story was how poorly her father behaved towards her and the rest of his children, and this movie really shows us that, in what appears to be a pretty accurate way.

Charles Laughton is brilliant as the overbearing, controlling, overprotective, borderline incestuous Mr. Barrett, father of 12, whose wife had passed away, and whose own frustrations in love had led him to forbid his children to marry. He's hard to watch at times, but certainly gives the best performance, and the movie is probably more about his inability to let his children go – indeed, he disinherited each one who married – than it is about the extraordinary love between Robert and Elizabeth, though Frederic March and Norma Shearer do have some tender scenes. I enjoyed watching it, but I suppose that's the reason I didn't give a higher rating. How much better would it have been had they incorporated even more of their relationship, and some of their letters and poetry. The movie would be remade 23 years later by the same director, Sidney Franklin, and would be a great choice to be remade (with script changes) again today.


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