14 user 5 critic

The Light That Failed (1939)

Passed | | Adventure, Drama, War | 24 December 1939 (USA)
Dick Heldar, a London artist, is gradually losing his sight. He struggles to complete his masterpiece, the portrait of Bessie Broke, a cockney girl, before his eyesight fails him.


William A. Wellman


Robert Carson (screen play), Rudyard Kipling (based on the novel by)




Cast overview, first billed only:
Ronald Colman ... Dick Heldar
Walter Huston ... Torpenhow
Muriel Angelus ... Maisie
Ida Lupino ... Bessie Broke
Dudley Digges ... The Nilghai
Ernest Cossart ... Beeton
Ferike Boros ... Madame Binat
Pedro de Cordoba ... Monsieur Binat
Colin Tapley ... Gardner
Ronald Sinclair ... Dick as a Boy
Sarita Wooton Sarita Wooton ... Maisie as a Girl
Halliwell Hobbes ... Doctor
Charles Irwin ... Soldier Model
Francis McDonald ... George
George Regas ... Cassavetti


Dick Heldar, a London artist, is gradually losing his sight. He struggles to complete his masterpiece, the portrait of Bessie Broke, a cockney girl, before his eyesight fails him. Written by John Oswalt <jao@jao.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Only Rudyard Kipling could write such a romance! Only Ronald Colman could play such a role! See more »


Adventure | Drama | War


Passed | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Colman later starred in the radio series and TV series "Halls of Ivy." The show's antagonist's name was Prof. Wellman. Director William A. Wellman felt that the character was named after him. See more »


At c.16 minutes the English newspaper displays the American spelling of the word "vigour". See more »


Dick Heldar: Painting is seeing, then remembering better than you saw.
See more »


Edited into Hedda Hopper's Hollywood No. 3 (1942) See more »

User Reviews

It had potential, but it's lousy
22 September 2018 | by HotToastyRagSee all my reviews

There are two sides to Ronald Colman: the likable side and the unlikable side. In his unlikable phase, Ronnie acts like he couldn't care less about anyone around him, the women especially. It's not a very attractive look. If you want to see him in and fall in love with him, rent A Tale of Two Cities. If you don't care, rent Random Harvest. If you rent The Light That Failed, you won't like him, but you also won't like the movie. It's pretty terrible.

The beginning of the movie shows the romance of childhood sweethearts shooting a gun. The girl accidentally shoots the boy in the face. Isn't that nice? Don't you just hope they get together when they're grown up? When they do grow up, they're both artists. Ronnie's paintings get critical acclaim, but Muriel Angelus's paintings haven't been discovered yet. She's jealous of his success, and there's no believability that they've been pining away for each other all those years. In the meantime, Ronnie's roommate and army buddy Walter Huston falls for Cockney beauty Ida Lupino.

For some reason, everyone in this movie feels entitled to criticize everyone else's life choices and tell them what to do. Walter tells Ronnie he's selling out, Ronnie tells Walter to kick Ida to the curb. With friends like those, who needs enemies? The Light That Failed had the potential to be a real tearjerker, but it just wasn't a good movie. There's no poignancy, no romance, no likable character, and no real reason to watch it.

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Release Date:

24 December 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Luz Que Se Apaga See more »

Filming Locations:

Espanola, New Mexico, USA See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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