6.8/10
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18 user 11 critic

The Great Garrick (1937)

Passed | | Comedy, Romance | 30 October 1937 (USA)
A Paris troupe puts on outlandish performances for a celebrated eighteenth-century British actor in order to convince him of their talents; the arrival of a countess complicates the plot.

Director:

James Whale

Writer:

Ernest Vajda (a play for the screen)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Brian Aherne ... David Garrick
Olivia de Havilland ... Germaine
Edward Everett Horton ... Tubby
Melville Cooper ... M. Picard
Lionel Atwill ... Beaumarchais
Luis Alberni ... Basset
Lana Turner ... Auber
Marie Wilson ... Nicolle
Linda Perry ... Molee
Fritz Leiber ... Horatio
Etienne Girardot ... Jean Cabot
Dorothy Tree ... Mme. Moreau
Craig Reynolds ... M. Janin
Paul Everton ... Innkeeper of Adam and Eve
Trevor Bardette ... M. Noverre
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Storyline

The Great Garrick (Brian Aherne) is the most celebrated London theater actor of his day (eighteenth century) and is invited to Paris to star at the Comedie Francaise, the most important theatre in France. Before his departure for Paris he is mistakenly quoted as saying that he is 'going to France to teach the French how to act'. The Comedie Francaise actors and director hear about this and take this as a serious insult and thus plot to embarrass The Great Garrick when he gets to France with a great big prank. The Comedie Francaise troupe takes over an inn on Garrick's road to Paris where he spends the night. What the Comedie Francaise actors don't know is that The Great Garrick is in on the joke and just plays along. A wrench is thrown into the plot when lone, lovely countess shows up looking for a room at the inn. Garrick treats her as though she is one of the troupe but she falls in love with him. Edward Everett Horton plays The Great Garrick's valet. Written by Lisa Rome

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

It's gay! It's funny! It's young! It's simply swell! (original print ad) See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Romance

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

David Garrick (1717-1779) was a real, famous English actor, playwright, theatre manager and producer. See more »

Goofs

Early in the movie the road sign gives the distance to Paris in kilometres. In addition, when the wheelwright begins knocking the spokes out of the carriage wheel, he says of them "Wouldn't last another kilometre". The movie takes place in the 1750's; the metric system was introduced in 1799 after the French Revolution. See more »

Quotes

David Garrick: I plan to spend the night at the "Adam & Eve" and I see no reason why I should change my plans.
Jean Cabot: But you don't know what's waiting for you there! They threw me out before I could hear their plans. Supposing they have hired ruffians to do you harm?
David Garrick: Oh, ho ho ho ho! My friend, I have played Shylock in Dublin... I *have* no fear!
See more »

Crazy Credits

Rather than saying "Screenplay by Ernest Vajda", the credits read "A Play for the Screen by Ernest Vajda". See more »

Connections

Version of David Garrick (1912) See more »

Soundtracks

La Marseillaise
(1792) (uncredited)
Music by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle
In the score when the Paris title is shown
See more »

User Reviews

 
THE GREAT GARRICK (James Whale, 1937) ***
17 February 2007 | by Bunuel1976See all my reviews

With every new Whale film I watch, it's becoming increasingly evident that it's not just his horror output that was unique; this one, in fact – the director's sole effort for Warner Bros. – feels nothing like any of their productions!

The title would seem to suggest a biopic of the celebrated English actor – many similar prestige films emerged from Hollywood during this time, such as THE GREAT ZIEGFELD (1936) and THE GREAT WALTZ (1938) – but Whale and screenwriter Ernest Vajda concentrate instead on one curious incident (the fact that it never actually occurred is immaterial). Most of the director's typical qualities – and faults – are to be found in the film: his eye for pictorial detail (accentuated by Anton Grot's distinctive set design), the fluid camera-work (courtesy of Ernest Haller), the dry English humor, etc. However, he also tends to over-indulge his character actors (which, this being essentially a celebration of the art of performing, is hardly surprising in this case) and, consequently, the film's initial momentum isn't sustained throughout – the second half is somewhat chaotic and ham-fisted – but picks up again for the splendid finale. Nevertheless, Whale biographer James Curtis considers THE GREAT GARRICK his last wholly satisfying film – which, actually, makes me look forward all the more to watching THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK (1939) someday given its own solid reputation!

Inevitably, the cast has been carefully and most ably chosen: the underrated Brian Aherne is superb in the title role, while it's always a pleasure to see Edward Everett Horton (playing nervous and cowardly as always); among the endless list of supporting actors, perhaps the most impressive are Etienne Girardot (funny and poignant as an elderly stage prompter and Garrick's most devoted fan) and Luis Alberni (a specialist in servant roles relishing his one-shot opportunity at essaying the showier part of a lunatic); in contrast, demure Olivia De Havilland – a Warners contract player – feels somewhat lost in such company, to the point where additional close-ups were imposed by the studio (notably the unwarranted and corny final shot).

This stylish and delightful gem is truly one of the unsung films about the acting profession, in every way a worthy companion piece to such major works as Marcel Carne''s CHILDREN OF PARADISE (1945) and Jean Renoir's THE GOLDEN COACH (1952). Unfortunately, the audio on the DVD-R I watched (made from a TCM broadcast) was occasionally accompanied by a distracting echo; given Warners' recent DVD release of Whale's WATERLOO BRIDGE (1931) – as part of the "Forbidden Hollywood" set – and the rumored one for SHOWBOAT (1936) – along with two other cinematic adaptations of the popular musical – I hope that THE GREAT GARRICK won't be left behind (after all, those two films were actually Universal productions which became the property of Warners solely by virtue of the MGM remakes!).


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

30 October 1937 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ladies and Gentlemen See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Black and White (Sepiatone)| Black and White (Turner library print)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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