Whom the Gods Destroy (1934) Poster

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A forgotten masterpiece
tapetodisk6 July 2000
I've just recently had the pleasure of seeing this film, which is virtually unknown, and it's one of the finest films I've seen this year. Veteran character actor Walter connolly, a familiar face but not a well known name, gives a tour-de-force understated performance in this tasteful soaper....The film includes several of the most beautiful image montages ever assembled...a lost classic worthy of renewed interest!
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Super-Lavish Columbia "A"-Feature
JohnHowardReid30 July 2009
One of the gaps in my movie viewing has always been Columbia films of the 1930s. Fortunately, some of these titles are now starting to appear on DVD, and none was more welcome than Walter Lang's "Whom the Gods Destroy". Superbly edited by longtime Columbia contractee Viola Lawrence in a style obviously influenced by contemporary Russian and avant garde and featuring an astonishing "Titanic" scene in which lavish studio footage is cleverly intercut with stock material from E.A. Dupont's "Atlantik" (1929), "Whom the Gods Destroy" is one of the few films to indelibly brand its hero a coward. The only other one I can call to mind is John Huston's equally powerful "Red Badge of Courage" (1951) (which at present is available on a most disappointing DVD which contains only the familiar 69-minute cutdown and not so much as a single foot of the shelved scenes). In "Whom the Gods Destroy", the hero's cowardice is even more despicable, although three or four minutes have been censored from the shipboard and beach scenes in the 2009 DVD, considerably lessening their impact. Nonetheless, Walter Connolly acquits himself with honor, while young Robert Young is luckily called upon to be inadequate – which he is!
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Known as "Shipwreck" in 1934
walsh25tudor5 September 2003
Warning: Spoilers
I saw "Shipwreck" in Radio City Music Hall in 1934 (when I was 7). I especially enjoyed seeing Robert Young for perhaps the first time. I don't recall the semi-happy ending noted in your Summary. Instead, I thought the Walter Connolly character died in his son's office after his wife recognized him. (Maybe I anticipated that ending later on in "Tomorrow Is Forever.") Did time play tricks on me? I erroneously believed that the female lead was Ann Harding, only to find in IMDb that it was lookalike Doris Kenyon. I especially recall the lifeboat scramble and the beatings Connolly received in Newfoundland when his fellow passengers and the locals discovered he had disguised himself as a woman by placing a ladies fur coat over his head.
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Walter Connolly is Just Tremendous
kidboots4 July 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Walter Connolly was a successful stage actor who appeared in over 22 productions but by the time talkies came in he became typecast, usually as the exasperated business tycoon or newspaperman and often as the flustered father of the star ("It Happened One Night" (1934)). They say most actors have one magnificent performance in them and with Connolly it would have to be his almost Emil Jannings characterization of the imposing impresario,John Forrester in "Whom the Gods Destroy". He was just tremendous and the movie opens with the delay of his much anticipated cruise, he is staying behind to put some finishing touches on his soon to open play and also to show the viewers the bond he shares with his wife and little son (a very cute Scotty Beckett) - John just idolizes the child.

With scenes and a storyline plucked from the famed Titanic, it is not too long before disaster strikes at sea and there are vivid scenes of frantic terror and pandemonium as hysterical people vye for the very few lifeboats available. A dazed Forrester sees a woman's coat and a means of escape but when his identity is discovered in a small fishing village, he is vilified as a coward. Only Hobart Bosworth playing an old mariner takes his part and convinces him to return to his family - but proceeding him to New York is the woman to whom he gave up his life jacket to and she has proclaimed him a hero!! Once he reaches the theatre and sees a plaque erected to his bravery does he realise he must now live in the shadows.

Now starts his redemption as he goes from cleaner to cook to watchman at a puppet theatre, all the while keeping an eye on his family. Finally Jack (now played by handsome Robert Young) wants desperately to produce his own play but it proves a dismal failure. Just when he feels at his lowest ebb with newspapers mocking his presumptuous efforts, it is here Forrester reappears as the "friend of his father" to provide him with hope and encouragement and all his experience in the theatre, to restore Jack's confidence and make sure his next play is worthy of the Forrester name!!

Just a terrific movie with impressive performances throughout - the ending not at all predictable. Doris Kenyon's part is small but as always she has a graceful and believable presence and convinces you that it will work out. Robert Young, by 1934, must have been beginning to wonder whether stardom had passed him by (it had, sort of) but he was still giving interest and emotion to the one dimensional roles they gave him.

Highly Recommended.
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