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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.

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(from the play by) (as Rudolf Besier), (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:
... Elizabeth Barrett
... Robert Browning
... Edward Moulton-Barrett
... Henrietta Barrett
... Arabel Barrett
... Captain Surtees Cook
Marion Clayton Anderson ... Bella Hedley (as Marion Clayton)
... Harry Bevan
Ferdinand Munier ... Dr. Chambers
... Wilson
... Dr. Ford-Waterlow (as Leo Carroll)
Vernon Downing ... Octavius Barrett
Neville Clark ... Charles Barrett
Matthew Smith ... George Barrett
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

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Language:

Release Date:

21 September 1934 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Forbidden Alliance  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

(Turner library print)

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Irving G. Thalberg reportedly sought Katharine Cornell, who had starred in the 1931 original production at the Empire Theater in New York, as well as the 1935 and 1945 revivals, to star in the film adaptation. Due to her intense loyalty to the theater, Katharine Cornell had regularly turned down all offers from Hollywood producers. However, Thalberg argued that Cornell "owed it to posterity to make movies... [for] future generations of audiences to enjoy and for future actors and actresses to study," according to Tad Mosel's Cornell biography, Leading Lady. Cornell was briefly persuaded by Thalberg's persistence, most notably by his offer to "destroy the finished film completely, burn it and send it up in smoke, if she wasn't completely satisfied." Cornell briefly agreed to Thalberg's terms in private, however was still reluctant to make the transition to film and backed out of the verbal commitment. The closest thing to Katharine Cornell's movie debut would be a brief cameo in Stage Door Canteen in 1945. 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

Octavius Barrett: Has it got feathers?
The Barrett Family: No!
Octavius Barrett: Is it a tiger?
The Barrett Family: No!
Octavius Barrett: Dragon?
The Barrett Family: No!
Elizabeth Barrett: Think of something you're are more afraid of than anything else in the world.
Octavius Barrett: Hmm. Is it a g-g-g-g-girl?
See more »

Connections

Featured in And the Oscar Goes To... (2014) 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 »

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User Reviews

 
MGM Puts Poetry in Motion for Norma Shearer
28 June 2010 | by See all my reviews

In 1845 London, invalid poetess Norma Shearer (as Elizabeth Barrett) finds reasons to live, after meeting fellow writer Fredric March (as Robert Browning). "The Barretts of Wimpole Street" focuses on one particular Barrett; not surprisingly, it is the one played by Ms. Shearer. At the time, she was considered one of the best actresses of all-time, and this MGM production captures Shearer's appeal perfectly. Unlike many of her contemporaries, Shearer approached most of her later roles from a movie star perspective, and stayed there. So, rather than trying to inhabit Elizabeth Barrett, she brings the character to Shearer. Herein, it works. This was the last time Shearer had the use of her greatest behind-the-scenes collaborators, director Sidney Franklin and husband Irving Thalberg. The latter assembles the usual top talent, and Franklin expertly presents his star.

With William Daniels' loving camera, Shearer is given numerous close-ups and medium shots, made to showcase her acting.

So, you will see the litany of Shearer looks. Much of it is unnecessary, but it certainly makes the picture fun to watch. And, Shearer's performance is one of her best. The "Academy Awards" took notice, and Shearer finished #2 behind Claudette Colbert in the annual "Best Actress" race, ahead of Bette Davis. Many people think Ms. Davis was "robbed" that year; but, Shearer was even more slighted. The film was "Best Picture" according to "Film Daily" and "Photoplay" while Oscar placed it second. There were no "Supporting Actor" awards yet, or Charles Laughton would surely have been noticed; if only for the way he practically commands Shearer to fall on their home's imposing staircase. Franklin is also award-worthy; when maid Una O'Connor glides into the screen, you know he intends to lift a stagy story about a mostly immobile woman up off its heels.

******** The Barretts of Wimpole Street (9/14/34) Sidney Franklin ~ Norma Shearer, Frederic March, Charles Laughton, Una O'Connor


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