Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Movie Review #11: The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934)

I'm taking it that many of you reading this are in some sort of education right now. Your probably learning about things that bore you to death, such as history of wars and etc. Though I'm one that fancy's those sorts of lessons (more then the mathematical or science lesson), I know a great deal of young ladies now a days don't enjoy these sorts of discussions. But what if you were to learn of the back story of such subjects? The love affairs that took place, the personal battles that were held. It might not be as boring right?

So Today, we are going to have an English History lesson. The subject? The romance of Mr. Robert Browning and Ms. Elizabeth Barrett. Both poets and dreamers, these two are the main characters in our film today. The film? The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934). Starring Norma Shearer, Charles Laughton, and my favorite leading man to ever be on film, Fredric March. This film tells the story of their romance and of Elizabeth's Father's hatred of his daughter leaving him.

The film starts off with Elizabeth, recovering from an undiscovered illness, speaking to her doctor and siblings. We soon learn that though she loves her family, one ugly shadow looms over the household, Edward Barrett, her father. Psychologically abusing Elizabeth into believing her sickness to be perminant, Edward is noted at this point as the "villan" or antagonist of the film.

Along with many other enjoyable characters, we then are introduced to Robert. Though I can be extremely biased when it comes to any perfomance by March, I find this to be on the top of my list. Bringing a sense of charm and excitement to a role that could have been played very drippy and calm, March breathes life into the character.

This is a key film that best represents the amazing chemistry between March and Shearer. Giving what I believe to be her best performance, Shearer showcases her understanding of the character and her great volume in emotion. I truly believe that she is who she is playing. This also goes for Laughton. Known for playing these sort of dark roles, he perfectly expresses the hidden anger and frustration that Edward is in a whole.
My only complaint about the film would be it's length. Some scenes are dragged out, while others that should be longer are shortened. But this was based on a play, which was a length of almost 3 hours, so take what you can from it.
Overall, this movie is a classic. It's sad to see that it's appreciation has withered with time itself. It's very hard to find and I could only get in on VHS (I plan to transfer it to DVD though) The good thing is, If you have the channel TCM, they do show it usually every 1 - 3 months, depending on the programming theme. Otherwise, you might be able to find it online.
LVF gives Elizabeth and Robert Browning's love story 5 out of 5 headbows. Go fourth and enjoy the drama!
But what will be next weeks movie? Here's a trailer.

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