Tatyana Aksyuta is well-cast as the waif-like Katya who seems in danger of being consumed by her passion for the son of her mother's old boyfriend. Likewise, Nikita Mikhajlovsky, gives probably the best performance of his short, tragic career as Roman, whose pure, boundless love for Katya triumphs over the scheming of his mother and grandmother.
But there is more to the story which seems intent on examining all the different ways that love can grow, change, thrive or die.
Tanechka, the sympathetic teacher longs for the pure, romantic love of literature and is unsatisfied with the attentions of her rather crass lover. Searching for perfection, she seems certain to live her life alone and unfulfilled.
Katya's mother seems finally to have found contentment with her second husband after a failed teenage romance with Roman's father and a failed first marriage to Katya's father.
Roman's father's lingering love for Katya's mother makes him seem like a fool, but, because he is in love, he doesn't care.
Roman's mother's love for his father and for Roman finds expression only in jealousy, bitterness and manipulation.
This is a pretty story, well-portrayed by appealing actors. And unlike Shakespeare, it has a happy ending.
Bob Steele is in top form and shows off his athletic build in a shirtless wrestling match at the beginning of the movie.
If you like B Westerns, this one is enjoyable, standard fare as Steele (the Navajo Kid) looks for the varmints that robbed and murdered his paw and finds romance along the way.
Wallace Beery is more entertaining just being Wallace Beery than most actors are with sparkling dialogue and auteur direction.
Magararet O'Brien: Shirley Temple she ain't! When people talk about child stars, they usually mention Jackie Coogan and Jackie Cooper; Mickey Rooney and Dickie Moore; Baby Peggy and Hailie Mills. Give me Margaret O'Brien any day.
Marjorie Main could lick her weight in Marie Dresslers, any day.
Why does Bennett's character, the nymphomaniac wife who blinded her artist husband (Bickford) seduce young men inside a derelict wreck on the beach? Aren't there any motels?
Why does Bickford's character, the blinded sadistic artist keep throwing young men at his wife only to become resentful when she catches them? Why does he continue to believe that Ryan's character is his friend even after he pushes him over a cliff and tries to drown him in a storm at sea?
Why does Ryan's character, a Coast Guard Lieutenant, spend all of his time riding around on a horse? Is he in the Coast Guard, or the Cavalry?
What was meant by the ambiguous ending? Did any of the principals wind up with each other, or are they all three finally free of their obsessions?
Joan Bennett is cute and funny, but she can't carry the whole load on her petite shoulders.
Stiff, wooden, and uncharismatic, Mr. Brent was extremely adequate in a number of fine dramas. For comedy, his presence in the cast is the kiss of death.
A bucolic Italian light house keeper (Pickford) rescues an "American" sailor from the sea after he is "shipwrecked." She should have known that he wasn't American because he can speak more than one language.
During the course of this movie, set in the time of the First World War, Pickford's character looses both her brothers in the war (one through her own actions), falls in love with and marries a German spy who commits suicide after she turns him in, goes insane, gives birth and has her baby stolen by her best friend, and welcomes home her old boyfriend who has been blinded in the war. She is not having a good day.
If you liked "Sophie's Choice", you might like this movie. For me, it was just too much contrived melodrama. The moral that war destroys, not just the soldiers at the front, but the lives of their friends, family, and loved ones at home, is a valid one. It just isn't conveyed with much subtlety by this movie.
On the surface of it, this is as good as any of the rest of Kay Kyser's ouevre. If you like him (he is, admittedly, an acquired taste), you will probably like this movie. Lupe Velez and Patsy Kelly add their talents to the usual mix of corn and Swing supplied by Kay, Harry Babbitt, and Ish Kabibble (the true inventor of the Beatle haircut).
What keeps me from truly enjoying this film is the presence of the great John Barrymore in a role more suited to Edgar Kennedy. In his last screen appearance, Barrymore grimaces and cavorts like a Stooge and is obviously reading his lines from cards because he can't remember them anymore. Whether or not the tears in his eyes and on his cheeks are real as he mumbles through Hamlet's soliloquy one last time, mine were real enough.
If you don't reverence Barrymore, and you are a student of the Kollege of Musical Knowledge, this will be your cup of tea. If either of the above isn't true, give it a miss.
In several ways this simple little film seems to presage "The Way We Were." It won't make anybody's all-time favorites list, but Stanwyck and Young go well together and are pleasant to watch.